« PreviousContinue »
however unimportant his judgment may be deemed, yet even his errorsare rendered uninjurious by the unconscious simplicity with which opinions are avowed, startling to every one but himself. We select one specimen for the edification of our readers, which is founded on one of those claims of the Roman Catholic Church which give her so great an advantage over her Anglican sister, that of working miracles. The attempt set up by the extreme High-church or Pusey party to exhibit the mysterious real presence effected by the consecration of the elements as of a miraculous character, cannot, on the popular mind at least, operate like those more intelligible miracles which are manifested to the sight, the hearing or the smell. The most famous of the recent miracles-effected in the Church of Rome is that of the holy coat of Trèves. At Argenteuil, in France, there is a rival robe, which becomes the subject of a dialogue between the author and a Catholic priest, who thus says:
“Besides, Sir, to shew you that something may be said in favour of the robe,—I had with me here a few days since a young English peer, now under education with our order at Fribourg, who assured me that having been long suffering from a bad leg, he received an instantaneous cure from an application of a piece of the robe to the disordered part; and he called on me the other day, as he was passing through Paris, for the express purpose of going on a pilgrimage of thanksgiving to Argenteuil."
To this statement our Anglican divine made the following answer, which our readers will lay to heart, as doubtless the Romanist theologian did:
"I replied that I was not concerned either to admit or deny the fact of the miracle; that the one great duty of man, which no circumstances could affect, was to do the will and believe the word of God; that not even an angel from heaven was to make us swerve from this duty; and that if we disobeyed the Divine will, or tampered with the Divine word, I thought it not unlikely that God would give us over to a reprobate mind, and choose our delusions as the best mode of punishing us for our sin: and that therefore, supposing the robe to be a lying wonder, I considered it to be not improbable that God might take the method of delivering its votaries to judicial blindness, and of punishing them for their credulity and for the injury done to His holy name in paying honour to it which is due to Him alone, by allowing the robe to exercise miraculous agency: and that we had reason to expect from holy Scripture that the trial of our faith in these latter days would be precisely of this kind. We passed to other topics, and he concluded by saying in a kind tone, · You have, Sir, my best wishes for your peace and happiness in unity with the Church of Christ, but at present you and your countrymen are but seekers.'
We must express our surprise at the forbearance of the Romanist in not observing upon this marvellous judgment of Dr. Wordsworth, what we will not forestal our readers by needlessly setting down here.
The learned Doctor has other singular notions on the subject of miracle, which he brings forward on occasion of witnessing some mesmeric operations.
“There seems to be more analogy between the spiritual anti-christianism which deludes men by lying wonders, such as the robe of Argenteuil above mentioned and the animal magnetism of the secular and sceptical saloons of Paris, than at first sight strikes the mind; and it is hardly possible to deny that the same evil spirit works by both, which dictates the language of the infidel professor in his class-room at the College of France."
► Thus it seems that the Roman Catholic priests, the mesmeric physicians and surgeons, and the Professors at the University colleges, are alike under the same Satanic influence!
The rest of the volume is in harmony with the spirit which dictated this judgment. Whatever is not in perfect accordance with the Anglican Church, is noticed only to be condemned. The French Protestants have no favour in his eyes. We should have passed over without notice the astonishment he expresses at that tolerance which comprehends in one body the “unmitigated Calvinism" of M. Monod and the “ most unmeasured rationalism” of M. Athanase Coquerel; but even from him we should not have expected that, after a favourable notice of the Sours de Charité Protestantes, whom he lauds for their personal piety and unwearied charity, he should declare it to be an unhappy want of principle that the institution is under the control jointly of the Lutheran and Calvinistic Churches. “ Hence it has, and can have, no common creed and no basis of unity. The chapel has a pulpit, but no altar." These italics are the Doctor's, in the use of which he seems to have forgotten that, according to the formulary of his own Church, it has only “a holy table," and no altar, which indeed can be only fitly raised where a sacrifice is to be performed, as in the Mass. But the great offence of these pious women, in the Doctor's eyes, seems to be, that they have audaciously assumed the office of deaconesses, and, without any due mission and in spite of the prohibition, venture to expound the Scriptures. One single ecclesiastical institution is favourably represented by the Doctor, the Frères des Ecoles Chretiennes, in the establishment of which alone the Church and State concur. Yet even this society, we are told, " is a handmaid, or rather an engine, of Popery”-as if it were worthy of remark, that an institution of the Church should be subservient to the Church! Much more worthy of attention are his observations on one important fact which we think he has satisfactorily established,--that the change which took place in the French Establishment after the revolution of the three days, when the Roman Catholic Church ceased to be the religion of the State, and was merely declared to be the religion of the majority of Frenchmen, had the effect of advancing the power of the Pope and the Roman Catholic priesthood, and of depriving the Crown of that restraint over the priesthood, which, as that body are under the control of the Pope, the Doctor conceives to be necessary for the public welfare. He thus states the relation between the two bodies :
“The Church of France strengthens itself against the State by identifying itself with the Papacy; it also taunts the State with the separation which has taken place between it and itself. You,' it says to the State, ‘have been the cause of the severance, and you must take the consequences. You have broken the treaty of alliance, and yet you claim to exercise control over me still: but I protest against such tyrannical usurpation. As long as you were Christian and Catholic, it was reasonable enough for me to allow you to mix yourself up with my affairs; but now that you have become Jew and Jansenist in your codes, and Deist and Pantheist in your colleges, I renounce all your jurisdiction. Gallican articles of 1682, Concordat of 1801, organic laws of 1802, Ordonnances concerning Appels comme d'Abus,—these and all other ecclesiastical statutes are ipso facto abrogated and null, as though they had never been, by the unchristian, heretical and infidel character which you in your political wisdom have thought fit to assume. Shall Catholic Bishops
give an account of their proceedings, not to the successor of St. Peter, but to a nullifidian Privy Council ?!”
It is notorious, however, that in the fierce conflict in which the laity are now engaged against the clergy, the clergy have been reduced to the humiliating necessity of resting their claims, not on the divine authority of their order, but on the provisions of that very charter which is the object of their scorn and abhorrence. That charter gives equal liberty to all; and they are compelled, therefore, to claim the right of teaching as Frenchmen, and to invoke Liberty-chartered Liberty! For this they are censured by the Doctor, who also reproaches Louis Philippe for not having established a national Protestant Church in imitation of the English, in a country in which, according to his own showing, there are only bigoted Romanists and Infidels. Such is the sagacity of the traveller, and so capable is he of making a practical estimate of governments and those who administer public affairs !
We are unwilling, however, to lay down this little volume without endeavouring to derive some instruction through it, if not from the author; and we turn to the fact already stated, that by the abolition of the Established Church, the Roman Catholic religion has in France been deteriorated, and the mischievous power of the priesthood (miscalled the Church) advanced. Now there is at this time, in our own country, if not a very powerful, yet at least a very noisy and bustling party, who have an ostentatious organization bearing the name of an “Anti-StateChurch Association," and among whom we regret to see the names of a few respected friends with whom we are happy to concur generally in sentiment and in action. Considering this as a merely practical question, we ask, Suppose the end attained, what would Liberality, what would Truth, what would Charity have gained by the victory? The fact cannot be disputed—the Puseyite party very consistently deplore it, and it constitutes one of the strong points of the High-church and pro-Romanist controversialists, viz., that the Church is ultimately governed by the laity; for the Canons of the Church have no authority but by Act of Parliament; and the weight and influence of the bench of Bishops, such as they are subsist only by and under the authority of the intelligent laity. We doubt whether the loud clamorers for the abolition of the State Church have any notion whatever of the ultimate consequences of the attainment of their wishes. What they anticipate as the immediate consequence must be very gratifying to ardent and ambitious spirits, viz., that free play-room should be given to them. selves; that worldly emolument and power over the minds of men should be set up as a prize, to be fought for by the ministers of all sects and denominations. The immediate result of this would be, the transfer of all power into the hands of the clergy, and the gradual absorption of all authority by the sacred order. The grandest triumph ever effected by the voluntary principle which the history of mankind exhibits is the Roman Catholic Church, which no king, no warrior, no noble ever established. For it was the Priesthood, who having first made disciples and converts of the masses, at length vanquished alike the soldier, the noble and the monarch. And, on a smaller scale and with corresponding inferiority of results, the same spectacle has been seen in the Churches seemingly the furthest removed from the Church of Rome. The pretensions at this hour set up by the Free Church of Scotland have much in common with those claimed for the College of Cardinals; and the influence of the Methodist and Dissenting clergy over their flocks may fitly be compared with the power of the Romish priesthood. The monarchical establishment of Rome gives to that Church advantages which the aristocracy of presbyters can only obtain by intenser activity. It is usual to adduce the secularity of the Established Churches, and the undeniable Erastianism in all of them, as a reproach common to all. We may be thought heretical or paradoxical, but these are precisely the qualities which render the Establishment less dangerous, at the same time that it is less exemplary. Religious zeal, without the corrective of an intelligence which sobers, is among the most dangerous of elements in the spiritual and moral world. And, speaking of ourselves as without (extra) the Church, and therefore exposed to its hostility, we are conscious of deriving our security from the very qualities that seem to be its reproach. If the Church Establishment had been destroyed, as is now so hotly required, in the last generation, the old Test and Corporation Acts might indeed have been repealed, but only to be succeeded by the imposition of other tests of a doctrinal form, and more tyrannical in their provisions; and, most assuredly, neither Mr. Smith's Unitarian Protection Bill, nor the Catholic Emancipation, would have yet passed the Legislature. Our friends seem strangely to have lost sight of what so recently occurred,—that when the Government had undertaken to consummate the Toleration Act and remove the last remains of intolerance by securing their property to Unitarians, much of the opposition to that most righteous measure came from these assailants of Church Establishments and noisiest proclaimers of the voluntary principle. As far as this boasted cry—the fit inscription of a banner-has any claim to the character of principle, it is really an idle truism, denied by no one; for it merely affirms that religion ought to be every man's own, and not forced on him. No one has proclaimed this more frequently than Mr. O'Connell. The Roman Catholic clergy affirm it eagerly wherever they are not established by law—then they hold their tongues; and it is echoed by the leaders of the Scottish Free Church, after denouncing the sin of neglecting to establish their Church. But when, beyond this mere implication that religion must be free, an attempt is made to engraft on it the assertion that the State ought not to superintend the concerns of religion, the position cannot be plausibly maintained but in connection with most superstitious claims of the clergy as a divinely-appointed order, subsisting by virtue of a miraculously-preserved succession, to whom alone, in exclusion of the civil magistrate, the right of Church government is given.
H. C. R.
NOTE. The learned Doctor's literary labours have run in two lines concurring with his pedagogical duties, extending over classical scholarship and orthodox divinity. With the former class we have now no concern. As a theological teacher, he has produced one work which has obtained great favour among his own class, being a sort of catechism for great boys or young men at college. It bears the inappropriate title of “ Theophilus Anglicanus." He should have entitled himself Ecclesiophilus. The further title of his book is—" or Instruction for the Young
Student concerning the Church and the Anglican Branch of it.” It includes all Church topics, of discipline as well as of doctrine, and is well stuffed with citations and reference,-a very vade-mecum for young students of divinity. It would lead us too far to indulge in remarks, and therefore we content ourselves with two extracts which will answer the purpose as well.
In answer to the question, whether the Bishop of Rome could have acquired any jurisdiction in England,
“ A. No, he could not; the sovereigns of England are jure divino the LORD's Vicegerent in that country; and it is their prerogative to rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be ecclesiastical or temporal .... and to see that all persons, ecclesiastical and civil, do their duty: and Kings cannot execute this function unless they have supreme authority in causes ecclesiastical."
As it must rejoice all good Protestants to see the Papal usurpations so satisfactorily repelled, in like manner must we rejoice to read an express acknowledgment of the right of private judgment, -another fond aspiration of good Protestants.
“ The Church of England admits the right of private judgment so far as it is exercised by any one in determining whether he will engage to expound according to her public formularies; but she admits no right of private judgment to enable him, when he has made such an engagement, to alter, weaken and subvert what he is by his own act pledged to maintain. .... On the contrary, she censures all impugners of her doctrine and discipline .... and no minister of her communion may expound at all, unless examined, approved and licensed by the Bishop"!
MR. BELSHAM'S DEFINITION OF THE WORD CHRISTIAN.
To believe in the Christian revelation, is to believe that Jesus of Nazareth, the greatest of all the prophets of God, was commissioned by God to reveal the doctrine of a future life, in which virtue will find a correspondent reward, and vice shall suffer condign punishment; and, that of this commission he gave satisfactory evidence by his resurrection from the dead. He who believes these few plain and simple facts, is a speculative Christian; he who publicly avows this belief, is a professed Christian; he who regulates his temper and conduct by an habitual regard to these important principles, is a practical Christian : he who does not believe that Jesus was commissioned to teach the doctrine of eternal life, or who denies his resurrection from the dead, is not a Christian. He may, for any thing that appears, be a learned man, a wise man, and a good man; but he cannot, in propriety of language, be called a believer in Christ.- A Summary of the Evidence and Practical Importance of the Christian Revelation. Discourse I. p. 5.
Jean Paul.–VII. JOY. The joy of delicate minds is bashful. They shew rather their wounds than their raptures, though they think that both are unmerited; or they shew both alike under the veil of a tear.