« PreviousContinue »
quiet and pacific temper, opened the Conference by apologising for his ignorance of the business, and leaving Sheldon, who knew the King's mind, to conduct it. The bishop, addressing himself to the Presbyterians, said, “That they, and not the bishops, had sought the Conference, being desirous of alterations in the Liturgy; and that, therefore, there was nothing to be done till they had brought in all they had to say against it in writing, and all the additions which they desired.” It was a politic step; for, as Bishop Burnet testifies, “Sheldon Baw well enough what the effect would be of obliging them to make all their demands at once; that the number would raise a mighty outcry against them, as a people that could never be satisfied.” The Presbyterians fell into the snare. They were hurt and wounded, indeed, by the tone assumed by the prelates, and urged that, as the Warrant witnessed, they had met for friendly intercourse and discussion, as equals who desired to understand and conciliate each other; but, finding the bishops set against concession, they at last consented to “ bring in all their exceptions at one time, and all their additions at another time.” On May 4th, they sent the bishops their paper of exceptions. Following Baxter's advice, the Presbyterians, instead of urging the few really vital objections they had against the Prayer Book, brought in a list of exceptions which fully vindicated Sheldon's crafty prescience, and raised that "mighty outcry," which, as Burnet affirms, he wished to hear. They
“That the Liturgy should contain nothing doubtful or questioned among pious, learned, and orthodox persons.
“That the repetitions and responses of clerk and people be omitted.
“That the petitions of the Litany be cast into one solemn prayer, to be offered up by the minister.
“ That Lent be not countenanced as a religious fast..
“ That the new translation of the Scriptures (the present authorised version) be used instead of the old.
“ That the lessons from the Apocrypha be disused.
“ That the minister be not required to rehearse the Liturgy at the communion table.
“That the words priest and curate be turned into the word minister, and Sunday into Lord's day.
6 That obsolete words be changed into common words.
- That no portions of the Old Testament, or of the Book of Acts, be styled or read as Epistles.
“ That the phrase which supposes all in communion to be regenerated bei reformed.
“That the petitions in the prayers have a more orderly connection, and the forms be of a more competent length.
“That the Liturgy be so contrived as to comprehend the sum of all such sing as are ordinarily to be confessed in prayer by the church, and of such petitions and thanksgivings as are ordinarily to be put up to God; and that the Catechism annexed do summarily comprehend and explicitly set down all such doctrines as are necessary to be believed.
" That ceremonies, not necessary in themselves, be not imposed, but left at liberty."
These "general proposals” would have been sufficiently repugnant to the triumphant Cavalier party; and when to these were added a multitude of exceptions to the several parts of the Liturgy, it is not difficult to understand how completely Sheldon's design was effected, and the Presbyterians came to be regarded “as a people that could never be satisfied.” i
But the exceptions were as nothing to the additions. This part of their task the Presbyterians had assigned to Richard Baxter. Baxter, unhappily, though à consummate controversialist, was no diplomatist. Seldom has a man of so great & wit shown so little tact. On this occasion, he was guilty of what Wheatley, fairly enough, terms a piece of insolence. In place of adding the few supplementary forms which he thought the Prayer Book needed, he composed, in the language of Scripture, an entirely new Prayer Book, which he called “The Reformed Liturgy." This Liturgy, examined and approved by his brethren, was presented to the bishops; and it was gravely proposed that this hasty product of a heated brain should displace the venerable book-one of the chief treasures of the Universal Church-in which lie garnered the richest fruits of the wisdom and devotion of the Christian centuries! No wonder that pious churchmen, as they contrasted Baxter's hasty assortment of ill-gathered texts with the forms in which the primitive fathers and confessors had expressed the spiritual essence of the Word, and their manifold experiences of its powerhis fourteen days of misspent labour with the slow accretion of the devout aspirations of all by-gone generations of the Church in their beloved Liturgywere filled with astonishment, bordering on contempt, at Baxter's presumption. No wonder, either, that the politicians of the Church exulted over the success of a stratagem which must have outrun even their most sanguine expectations. “Nothing,” says Burnet-and, for once, we can well believe the gossipping prelate—“ gave the bishops so great an advantage over Baxter and his party as their offering a new Litur
No sooner had the bishops received the Reformed Liturgy, than they rejected it without examination. They could do no other; for, to say nothing of the natural contempt with which they would regard this “ piece of insolence,” they were bound by the terms of their commission. The Royal Warrant authorised them to revise the Book of Common Prayer, not to re-write it. It would have been well if in other respects they had been as strongly bent on discharging the duty assigned them. With their “paper of exceptions," the Presbyterians had tendered a petition for peace, the prayer of which was: “Grant us but the freedom which Christ and his Apostles left to the churches : use necessary things as necessary, and unnecessary things as unnecessary." True, they had been somewhat unmindful of their own prayer, and had blended things Decessary with things unnecessary in the exceptions they had taken. But, as we may see from the “ general proposals" of their paper, they had taken their main objections to forms and phrases of the Prayer Book which were manifestly obnoxious to the Puritan conscience, even though it were not a very tender one, Dor given to an over-scrupulous sensitiveness. The bishops-under-shepherds of that Divine Pastor who carries the lambs in his arms, and gently leads them that are with young-should have had some tenderness for the tender, some Care for the honest. Had they known their day and their duty, by a few concessions, which would have cost them little, and saved their brethren much, and been a lasting gain to the church, they would have redeemed the royal promise, and retained in their communion the thousands who, for lack of those concessions, were compelled to leave it. They replied to the exceptions of the Paritans ; but when the reply came, it contained no “abatements or alterations at all;" it was simply an elaborate defence of the points to which exception had been taken. Henceforward, there was little hope of a successful issue to the Conference. The prelatists were indignant at, what seemed to them, the enormous concessions demanded by the Presbyterians ; while the Presbyterians, on the other hand, were no less indignant at the treachery and ingratitude of the prelates.
At last, and only ten days before the Commission expired, the ministers requested a personal conference with the bishops. The pen had failed ; they
would try what the tongue could do. Their request was granted. They opened the debate with an earnest entreaty that the prelates and their coadjutors would spend the little time that was left them in a frank generous intercourse, such as might tend toward the comprehension promised in the Declaration of the King. Would their lordships be good enough to go over the alterations and additions which had been presented to them, and “ declare what they allowed and what they disallowed ”p This their lordships flatly refused. Well, then, leaving out the additions, would they review the exceptions, and “declare what alterations they could yield too? To which reasonable inquiry the bishops replied, “They had nothing to say upon this head, till the necessity of an alteration in general was proved, which it had not as yet been; they would yield_to all that was proved necessary, but looked upon none as necessary.” “It is strange," was the keen rejoinder, “that when the King has so long and publicly determined upon the end, and called us to consult upon the means, you should presume to contradict him, and determine the end itself unnecessary, and consequently no means necessary.' “But," objected the bishops, "you must prove alterations necessary.” Said the ministers, “ They are necessary to peace and unity, which, without them, cannot be attained.” This, however, the bishops, deeming they could enforce an uni. formity which would be quite as good as unity, would by no means yield. In short, they had but one end in view-to force on a scholastic disputation which would occupy the time until the commission had expired. The paper war was to give place to the strife of tongues, amid which the real objects of the Conference were pretty sure to disappear.
Finding they could get no better terms, and not altogether averse to the fierce conflicts and barren victories of logical debate, the Presbyterians at length consented to a public disputation on the abstract question, the necessity of an alteration. Significantly enough, two whole days were wasted in settling the order of the disputation. At last it was settled that it should be carried on in writing, and by three antagonists on either side ; but the debate was mainly conducted by Baxter and Gunning, the two “ most unfit to heal matters, and the fittest to widen them.” Both of them could " parry, pass, and ward,” with unusual skill, and were well practised in all the dexterities of logical fence. The keen rapiers of their wit were soon engaged, and not readily sheathed. As a specimen of scholastic logic, illustrating the methods in which our fathers thought and argued, the disputation between these wellmatched adversaries is worth an attentive study; but it has no interest for the general reader. It was a mere pastime, in the etymological sense of the word, and had no practical issue. The only good thing that came of it was an interruption. When the combatants were somewhat exhausted, Cosin, Bishop of Durham, a devout and learned man, produced a paper containing a method to end the controversy, which was “to put the complainers upon distinguishing between the things charged as sinful, and those which they opposed as inerpedient only.” The three Presbyterian disputants were desired to draw up an answer to this paper by the next morning, which they did. In their answer they charge the rubric and injunctions of the Church with eight things flatly sinful and contrary to the word of God. “1. That no minister be admitted to baptize without the sign of the cross. 2. That no minister be admitted to officiate without wearing a surplice. 3. That none be admitted to the Lord's supper without he receive it kneeling. 4. That ministers be obliged to pronounce all baptized persons regenerated by the Holy Ghost, whether they be the children of Christians or not. 5. That ministers be obliged to deliver the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ to the unfit, both in health and sickness, and that, by personal application, putting it into their hands, even those who are forced to receive it against their will, through consciousness of their impeni
tency. 6. That ministers are obliged to absolve the unfit, and that in absolute expressions. 7. That ministers are forced to give thanks for all whom they bury, as brethren whom God has taken to himself. 8. That none may be preachers who do not subscribe that there is nothing in the Common Prayer Book, Book of Ordination, and the Thirty-nine Articles contrary to the word of God.” This paper is the one valuable result of the logomachy at the Savoy. If the Presbyterians had simply presented these eight objections at the first, and refused any scheme of comprehension which did not fully remove them, their course would have been a simple and noble one, such as would have commended itself to the sympathy of all faithful men. To give assent and consent to things which, in the judgment of the subscriber, are flatly sinful and contrary to the word of God, is what no true man would ask of his brother. Their great mistake was that, not content with protesting against things sinful, they took ex. ception to every phrase which they fancied they could amend; and, not content with amending, were foolish enough to re-write the Book of Prayer. This error gave their enemies occasion against them—the occasion which was eagerly sought-and makes them in part responsible for the fact that the Conference finally “broke up in anger, each party more exasperated than before." Still the main responsibility of this untoward issue rests on their opponents. That issue was, with the bishops, a foregone conclusion. From the first the leading prelates meant to alienate the Puritans, and not to conciliate them; to exclude, not to comprehend them. Even Hallam says, “The chief blame, it cannot be dissembled, ought to fall on the Churchmen. An opportunity was afforded of healing in a very great measure that schism and separation which, if they are to be believed, is one of the worst evils that can befail a Christian community. They had it in their power to retain or to expel a vast number of worthy and laborious ministers of the Gospel with whom they had in their estimation no essential ground of difference. They knew the King, and consequently themselves, to have been restored with (I might almost say by) the strenuous co-operation of those very men who were now at their mercy. To judge by the rules of moral wisdom, or of the spirit of Christianity (to which, notwithstanding what might be said of experience, it is difficult not to think we have a right to expect that a body of ecclesiastics should pay some attention), there can be no justification for the Anglican party on this occasion.” Robinson goes further still, and affirms, “It was notorious that the business of the Episcopal party was not to consult the interest of religion, but to cover a political design, which was too bad to appear at first; nor did they mean to heal the Church's wounds so much as to revenge their own. When they knew what the Presbyterians scrupled, they said, now they knew their minds, they would have matters so fixed, that not one of that sort should be able to keep his living."
THE QUICKENING MINISTRY OF SORROW.
BY THE REV. 8. cox. “O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit.”—Isa. Xxxviü. 16.
OUR common thought about sorrow | and not at the heart of things. Because is bardly a true one. We associate it sorrow expresses itself in outward signs with death. We regard it as a calamity which resemble, or are identical with, those in itself, and as the herald of calamities of pain and loss—in sighs, and tears, and still more disastrous than itself. In this, groans-in hushed stillness, or the craving as in so many other respects, we are tor solitude, we confound sorrow with pain the victims of the apparent. It is our and loss; we overlook its purifying and ennfirmity that we look on the appearance, riching ministries.
Now, doubtless there is a sorrow which can hardly but listen to a man who comes worketh death, and only death-a dull, to us pale and trembling, yet hallowed and hopeless, remorseful despair, which withers greatened, by his conflict with the enemy,and blackens all the remaining growths of our enemy as well as his,-and comes to life within the soul, making void their pro- l offer us the new thought he has won, the mise of fruit. Nay, doubtless there is in guerdon of his victory. Let us listen to all sorrow an element of death. Every him, then. Let us try the thought, which stroke of affliction kills something. All the may seem no less new and strange to some waters of grief lay the soul waste, or some of us than to him, by such tests as our province of the soul. But we have need to personal experience supplies. remember that “the seed is not quickened The quickening ministry of sorrow.except it die.” We have need to remember This of course will be our theme, for this that the rising waters enrich and fertilize is Hezekiah's thought. According to him, while they lay waste and conceal the soil. the griefs we have to encounter have in We have need to remember that the disso- them a life, a life for the spirit: it is by lution of the old conditions the birth of these men live. To bring this thought the new; that the very death which cor. home to us, let us apply it to some of the rupts, also immortalizes and glorifies. You deepest yet commonest sorrows of humancan only pass to more life and higher life as | ity. Unless I greatly mistake the matter, you pass through various forms of death. we shall find that our life bears a very sig
Remembering this, we shall be able, nificant proportion to the sorrows through perhaps, to enter into Hezekiah’s concep- which we have passed. tion of sorrow and mourning; to say with 1. One of the first of these sorrows is that him-but out of the depths of our own which accompanies the recognition of evil experience_"O Lord, by these things men in the world; i.e., in others, and in ourselves. live, and in all these is the life of my Self-consciousness has hardly dawned upon spirit.”
1 us before we come to the knowledge of In any case we shall be glad, I suppose, i good and evil--the bitter bequest of our to consider his words. They contain á first parents. We have hardly come to thought won from the grave. They con- know ourselves as separate from the things tain the only original thought which his and persons around us, as heritors of an long and sorrowful proximity to the death | individual life, before we dimly discern what kingdom suggested to him. He had been | has been called “the dæmonic element of very sick—« sick unto death." There was the universe.” The first distinct consciousno hope. The prophet had come unto him ness of pain, the first indignant perception with the burden,"Thus saith the Lord, of cruelty, the first experience of injustice, Set thine house in order, for thou shalt the first reaction of passion in himself, the die, and not live.” The burden proves too first intelligent apprehension of anger, or heavy for the king's failing strength. coldness, or wrong-doing in his parents ; " Hezekiah turned his face to the wall...and how the child's overcharged heart and Hezekiah wept sore.” To him it throbs and swells within him! So, then, seemed as if “the residue of his yearg”- the world is not a place of unbroken hapthe years he might have lived_had been piness; life is not all play and pleasantness. "removed from him as a shepherd's tent.” | There has something gone wrong in it, and "Like a crane," he tells us, “or a swallow, so in those who live in it, and in himself, did I lament; I did mourn as a dove; This personal life of his entails a personal mine eyes failed with looking upward." responsibility. Good and evil are more And when, beyond all hope, he is “re than words; they are vital realities, antacovered of his sickness ;" when, in answer | gonistic forces, contending everywhere, and to his impassioned prayer, he is brought | in every soul, for the mastery. Pleasant back from the very “gates of the grave,” things may be wrong things; painful this is the one new thought he brings with | things may be right things. There is him : “O Lord, by these things men live, something to be repressed, as well as some and in all these is the life of my spirit.” thing to express; something to deny, as wel In that solemn time he had looked with
lemn time he had looked with as something to gratify. Dark shadows of wider keener eyes on the ministry of sor- doubt and fear sweep over the opening row; he had learned to dissociate it from heart, troubling its serenity. It is not very death; he had recognised its life-giving, often, perhaps, that this recognition of evil, life-enlarging power. And we, brethren, i this sorrow that lurķs on the very thres