« PreviousContinue »
This republication of the works of Drs. Bowden and Cooke, was suggested by the appearance of a new edition of the Rev. Dr. Miller's “ Letters concerning the Constitution and Order of the Christian Ministry,” which had occasioned the strictures of the above-named authors. To this new edition, Dr. M. prefixed a “Preliminary Letter," which, although containing nearly fifty octavo pages, throws no other new light on his argument than such as may flow from an effort to enlist in its favour the passions and prejudices, rather than the sober conviction of the understandings, of his readers. On some of the assertions, denunciations, and sophisms, with which the “Preliminary Letter” abounds, it may be proper here to say a few words.
The present writer has no-recollection of ever having seen any thing so very like the denial of salvation to high-churchmen, so called, as in this portion of Dr. Miller's writings. Addressing his Presbyterian brethren, he uses these words: “So far from being doubtful whether you may be saved out of the Episcopal Church, my deep conviction is that the danger. is all the other way;" that is, that being in the Episcopal Chureh is exposure to the danger of not being saved. The Doctor proceeds, however, to qualify this semi-anathema in favour of a portion of the Episcopal Church, of which he takes great pains to bespeak the good-will-"that there is REAL DANGER*--not in being found in an Episcopal Church as such; for there, I have no doubt, there may be as ardent piety, and as precious, well-founded hopes, as in the Presbyterian or any other: but REAL DANGER in being found in an ecclesiastical inclosure in which the high-church doctrine, with all its usual spirit, and accompanying errors, forin the prevalent
* Here, and in the same words below, the emphatic capitals are the Doctor's own; expressive, no doubt, of his " deep conviction" of the awful magnitude of the danger.
system.»* The credit of candour, at least, must here be awarded to the author. He is deeply convinced that high-churchmen are in i real danger of everlasting perdition ; and therefore warns his brethren to beware, as they love their own souls, of coming within their ecclesiastical inclosure. Dr. Miller gives us to understand, in this letter, that he admits that there may be a connexion between the gross bigotry and unchristian intolerance, even of high-churchmen, and honesty and sincerity of heart; and surely he ought not himself to be shut out from a similar exercise of tender mercy. And although he scarcely authorizes a hope that this honesty and sincerity may be an effectual extenuation with our gracious Judge, 'I am sure that there is not a highchurchman who will not delight to exercise that hope towards even the severest of his censors.
· Against the real danger to their souls of being high-churchmen, or of even being found within the inclosure of such wicked men, the Doctor very naturally uses much warmth in guarding his brethren, sometimes by entreaty and exhortation, but more frequently by endeavouring to heighten their holy abhorrence of the abomination. The catalogue of offences laid to the charge of high-churchmanship is neither short in dimensions, nor light in character. And as an example of the effect which a correct view of its principles and policy should have, he avows the magnanimous and Christian "intention to hold it up to public odium, whenever” he has “occasion to speak of it.”Perhaps the unfortunate objects of this indignant resolution may derive some comfort from the reflection that they are not the first “ sect” that has been 66
every where spoken against."'! Nor will they be insensible to the gratitude due to Him by whose judgment alone they think it a great matter to be judged, that He has not imparted His prerogative of knowing the heart, to the censor who presumes to look into their motives, and ascribe to them a spirit unworthy of the Christian name."$ For such railing, it is to : be hoped that high-churchmen will have no railing to give in return; but will cherish the feeling which genuine Christianity prompts towards those (it is to be hoped not many in number) who thus revile them.
* Preliminary Letter pp. xlix. I. * Acts xxviii. 22.
+ Prelim. Letter, p. li.
The few passages in the Preliminary Letter which approximate to any thing like argument, and some of the many which rise no higher than mere denunciation, the reader will find amply refuted in the following pages. On some points, however, it may not be amiss briefly to remark.
How far Dr. Miller's denying the charge of misquotation from the Fathers is consistent with facts, will appear from the work of Dr. Cooke, republished in these volumes. To this work, the reader who would obtain correct information on the important question agitated, and see Dr. Miller's strange mistakes corrected, in a spirit worthy both of a Christian and a philosopher, and with a knowledge of the subject gained by extensive and laborious reading, is particularly referred. This work, and its worthy and intelligent author, have, indeed, been made the objects of a disingenuous and flippant attack in an article in the “ Biblical Repertory and Theological Review,” published under the auspices of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Princeton, N.J. The attack has been manfully repelled in an Answer,” by Dr. Cooke, strengthening his claim to respect and confidence for a thorough knowledge of his subject, and for the cool, dispassionate, and truly Christian manner in which he treats it. It is delightful to see such eminently respectable and talented laymen stand forth as the champions and defenders of religious truth.
Dr. Miller's formal declaration, "I have endeavoured to make my quotations from the Fathers, and other writers, with all the fidelity of which I am capable,»* is, of course, entitled to full credit. The question, then, to be settled by an appeal to the facts adduced by Drs. Bowden and Cooke, is made by Dr. Miller himself to be, Of how great fidelity is he capable ? And there can be little doubt, that with all the Doctor's honesty of intention, his prejudices on the subject led him to glance carelessly over many
a folio page,”
," and to fix his eye only on the “ half a dozen lines” which had “any direct bearing on the purpose of the extract.”+
Whether the reader can agree with Dr. M. that the least warrant for prelacy cannot be found in the word of God, he will perhaps be better able to judge after the perusal of these volumes, especially the tract entitled, "Episcopacy Tested by Scripture."
Prelim, Letter, p. yii.
† Prelim. Letter, p. vii.
On this main point, therefore, it is unnecessary to say any thing here. It must be obvious, however, to every one who reads pages xii-xv. of the “Preliminary Letter," that the Doctor has furnished most conclusive arguments in favour of those views of religion which have been termed mystical, and are independent of any external observances, rites, and ordinances. He who would be pious without the observance of the LORD's day, of public worship, and of the sacraments, who would discard every thing like a ministry among God's people, and who would seek heaven in the way pointed out by the most disorganizing spirit of enthusiasm, will find no less respectable a sanction than the course of argument adopted by Dr. Miller under the first of his eleven heads of charges against high-churchmen. The “ directions” given in Scripture “to inquirers after the way of istian obedience and hope,” as culled by Dr. M., make no mention of any Church, ministry, sacraments, or worship; except by an interpretation of the phrase “the washing of regeneration,” which the Doctor would not probably admit. It is no answer to this, that the duty of obeying God's commandments has a due place given to it in this summary. For if infant baptism, and the observance of the LORD's day, for instance, are supposed to be included within the requisition of such obedience, the Doctor's own ground is forsaken, by admitting as of obligation, points no otherwise “distinctly presented or maintained in the New Testament,” than by fair inference, and the operation of the sound rule of interpretation afforded by the generally received principles and practice of the Primitive Church.* And the candid reader is referred to these volumes in support of the proposition, here fearlessly advanced, that episcopacy is even more distinctly presented and
* Of this rule of interpretation, Dr. Miller makes very proper and satisfactory use in his “Letters on Unitarianism." A reference to this fact reminds the writer of a singular instance of the different views which the same mind will take of the same subject, under the influence of different wishes and purposes. Dr. Miller quotes Ignatius both in his "Letters on the Ministry," and in his " Letters on Unitarianism.” His quotations, however, are accompanied with remarks differing very essentially in their legitimate spirit and bearing, in the cases respectively. They are here placed in parallel columns for the more easy view of the reader. Letters on the Ministry.
Letters on Unitarianism. “ That even the 'Shorter Epistles' of “The great body of learned men conIgnatius are unworthy of confidence, as sider the smaller Épistles of Ignatius as, the genuine works of the Father whose in the main, the real works of the writer name they bear, is the opinion of many whose name they bear."--p. 122. of the ablest and best judges in the Pro. testant world."First ed. p. 140. Second ad. p. 90.