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them, according to the promise he made them, 'Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world, that they are far better capable of judging with respect to spiritual things than private Christians *, &c. “When a private Christian sees anything wrong in a Priest he ought to submit-he had better be a little uneasy himself than disobey those who have the rule over himt." So says my illustrious uncle ; but Cyprian says it is sinful to communicate with a sinner-priest; that the people (plebs) have the power of electing and ousting the Clergy, and that this power has descended to the people from Divine authority! It is very painful to me to see Cyprian pitted against iny uncle, for, in such a jostle, it is evident that the weaker must go to the wall.
Thus, in taking a general view of the Church of England, and in comparing it with the first Churches of Christianity, I can find nothing but dissimilarity. In the early churches there was a spiritual union among believers, who were persons admitted into the company of the faithful by a general consent of the whole Church approving their faith, and accepting their signs of godly repentance. The Church consisted of “the Elect, the Saints, preserved in Christ Jesus, and called the holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling-heirs of God by adoption and grace-sons
* Letters of L. S. E. p. 217.
# Ibid. 221.
of God by faith in Jesus Christ-men who had escaped the pollution of the world by the knowledge of Christ-a chosen generation, a royal Priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar peoplechildren of light—not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble-men of prayer, faith, patience, joy and peace in believing.” The union of the brethren in the bonds of redeeming love was what the Apostles aimed at: all their monitions were about spiritual matters; they toiled and preached among them to keep them in a holy, simple, patient frame of mind, and we hear nothing in the Gospel days of all those wretched and disgraceful clamours about tithes and money, in which the Church of England is now mainly occupied.
In the Church of England all is coldness, formality, exterior profession, and revolting worldliness. As for Church union, or the communion of Saints, it cannot be said to exist. Every canonically baptized individual in the country, not openly professing Dissent, is considered a regenerated Christian, a member of the Church of England. All Mayors and Aldermen, and all Magistrates (not professed Dissenters) are the shining Saints of the Established Church ; they often take the Sacrament, and are very zealous about the Church as by law established. Soldiers are marched in platoons to church; every man and woman, however infamous their lives, are
members, if they choose it, of this Church : there, is no discipline, no distinction, no separation. The Church is loved by angry politicians, by Orangemen, by furious Tories, by all the sons of darkness, by all the admirers of Don Miguel and of Charles X. The Duke of Wellington, the Duke of Cumberland, and the Marquess of Londonderry, are “ the dear brethren” of this Church. It is defended by squadrons of lancers, regiments of foot soldiers, and detachments of the police. The preachers of its Gospel violently take money from their flock in pitch battles, with all the implements of war-bugles, bayonets, and bullets. We hear* of fourteen men killed, and twenty wounded, in a tithe-battle; we hear of a whole province up in arms to combat him who comes to publish the glad tidings of salvation. In short, the Church of England is a public calamity, a breeder of strife and tumult, an instrument of rapacity and merciless oppression. Its wealth is as enormous as it is disproportionate. Five millions per annum, amongst sixteen thousand Priests, are so distributed as to leave three or four thousand in abject poverty. Thus, in taking a general view of the Established Church, it is almost impossible for any person, seriously and honestly, to come to the conclusion that it is indeed the Church of Christ; or if, indeed, any man should, after much reading
* The battle of Rathcormac, fought for an Archdeacon's tithes.
and consideration, profess to come to the conclusion, then must he be considered as a victim of dark superstition, and as much under a delusion as those members of the Romish persuasion who can wink at idolatry, and even admire the cruelties of the Inquisition.
I have thus freely expressed my opinion of the Established Church on a general view of its workings, and have come to the conclusion, that it is an invention of men, which can claim no respect from true believers. In my next, I hope to proceed to some minor matters, and to handle them in that plain way which you have kindly permitted
Your dutiful Nephew.
FROM THE SAME TO THE SAME.
MY DEAR UNCLE,
Perhaps it is superfluous now to express my sentiments respecting Confirmation, seeing that, in obedience to your positive and reiterated commands, I have submitted to that Popish ceremony ; but, as it is a rite contained in the Prayer-Book, and as I intend now to bring forward my scruples regarding many things contained in the Prayer-Book, I will begin with the subject of Confirmation.
My first objection to Confirmation is the solemn mockery and nonsense of the ceremony. Let me quote from the Prayer-Book: “Then shall the Bishop say, Do ye here, in the presence of God, and of this congregation, renew the solemn promise and vow that was made in your name at your baptism, ratifying and confirming the same in your own persons, and acknowledging yourselves bound to believe and do all those things which your godfathers and godmothers then undertook for you ?” This, of course, takes me back to my baptism, when I, a little baby, was sprinkled with water, not knowing what they were doing to me.