Page images

which they once had, thereby laying a most mali cious scandal upon the Church of England, as if: she did differ herein from the Reformed Churches in England, and from the Reformed Churches beyond the sea, and did consent unto those pernicious errors commonly called Arminianism, which the late famous Queen Elizabeth and King James, of happy memory, did so piously and religiously labour to suppress,” &c. &c. And on another occasion they came to the following resolution, “Whoever shall bring in innovation of religion, or by favour or countenance seek to extend Popery and Arminianism, or other opinion disagreeing from the truth, or orthodox church, shall be reputed a capital enemy to the kingdom and commonwealth ;" by which grave

decree. it seems highly probable, that had your Lordship lived in those times your Lordship would have got into a scrape, from which it would have been no easy matter to extricate your Lordship. .

Now, persons who attentively consider these things, and who have noticed the zeal of the Prelates in introducing Arminian and Pelagian tenets into the Church of England, compare these dignitaries to fish, which being captivated with the appearance of a fat worm, as it hangs on the fisherman's hook, find that there is something more in the worm than they can comfort-.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ably digest; for, though the Bishops find the bait of the mitre infinitely delightful, they also discover that the hook of the article is infinitely disagreeable, and in their efforts to disgorge that which they have swallowed, they only vomit up floods of Pelagian* bile in the shape of “Charges to the Clergy,” “Sermons for Country Congregations,” and “ Elements of Christian Theology.” And I do not wonder that Calvinism should be extremely indigestible to the Bishops, for with it there always is acting a movement spirit, if I may so term it-a discordance with the “wisdom of ancestors,” which is the very oxygen in the atmosphere of Priests, and without which they cannot exist. I take it to be an axiom in the priestly mysteries, that the wisdom of ancestors" is the breath of their nostrils ; for there never was yet a priesthood, nor ever will be to the end of time, which did not refer to the ancestral wisdom as the truest and the best, In the religion of the clergy there is a noble maxim, “Si mundus vult

“ * Bradwardine, that famous champion of the Truth, speaks eloquently on this subject, “Ecce enim quod non nisi tactu doloris refero, sicut olim contra unum Dei Pro-' phetam, octingenti et quinquaginta Prophetæ Baal, et similes reperti sunt, quibus et innumerabilis populus adhærebat ; ita et hodie in hac causâ, quot 0 Domine, cum Pelagio pro li- : bero arbitrio contra gratuitam gratiam tuam pugnant, et contra Paulum pugilem gratiæ specialem ? exsurge ergo, O Domine, sustine, protige, consolare,” &c.

vadere sicut vult, mundus debet vadere sicut vult," that is, “ If the world likes to jog on in the old way, in the old way the world ought to jog on,” which also is expressed sometimes in these words, “Let well alone*;" for why should anything be changed ? Were not our ancestors wiser men than we? Which of living animals, excepting man, seeks to deviate from the parental path? Does the bee buzz for reform ? or does the spider alter the old orthodox interstices and intersections of its web? Man, and man only, is clamouring for change, and seeking out many inventions. “Be not followers of them which are given to change," is, therefore, the sweetest text in the Bible, and has been preached on more than any other; for when we consider the Cardinals who have preached on it against the Huguenots, the Abbots against the Lutherans, and the English Bishops against the Reformers-when we think how the Albigenses and the Vaudois, the French Calvinists and the Lollards, the Puritans and the Brownists, have all

* There is an old adage, that " Truth lies hid in the bottom of a well,” and from this adage I imagine that other saying has arisen, “ Let well alone,” for if truth is at the bottom of the well, it is very natural for the clergy to request the people "to let the well alone:" drawing water from the well, or any way disturbing it, might be the means of bringing truth into day-light; therefore, “Let well alone by all means.”


smarted under this text, we must needs acknow.. ledge that there is none like it in Scripture. If Reformers and Independents would let the world jog on in the old way, we should have Bishops and Priests, Cardinals and Brahmins, Bonzes and Grand Lamas, to the end of the chapterfor in the eye of a philosopher there is no difference; they all hold the same office, with a variation of costume, but a philosopher sees through robes of ceremony, and he classifies under one genus the Brahminical thread of a Guru, the triple crown of a Pope, the yellow apron of a Lama, and the lawn sleeves of an English Bishop.

Now, as the tendency of mankind, in all ages, is to priestly government, how comes it that any antagonist power has risen up to oppose the natural march of the human mind, and what is this

The Dissenters tell us it is the Gospel, your Lordship will say it is Beelzebub; and here your Lordship and the Dissenters are at issue. This, however, is certain, that, if the Gospel is not this antagonist power, it rests with those who have misinterpreted the Gospel; for there is not a spot on the face of the earth where priests are opposed, excepting where the Bible is in popular use. It is clear, therefore, that if the Bible does not condemn a priesthood, those




people only who read the Bible are the opponents of a priesthood.

The question, then, in this momentous crisis is, “What is to be done?” To seal up the Bible in these days I consider hopeless. The Bishops did their worst to crush the Bible Societies, but without effect ; and I should suppose that Sir Robert Peel would hardly turn his thoughts to a suppression of the Scriptures, in order to save the Church of England. But if the light cannot be extinguished, can it not be darkened ? Let us consider the question more attentively.

Now, it seems to me, (an attentive observer of mankind,) that as the strength of the clergy consists chiefly in cherishing that bias of the mind and affections, which, in theologic language, is called the “natural man;" so I should recommend the friends of the Establishment to study those things which the natural man doth most covet, and to feed him to the full accordingly. The natural man, then, being a superstitious animal, and the secret of all superstition resting in the dominion which the senses may be brought to obtain over the mind in religious notions, I know nothing better for the Church of England, as matters now stand, than to increase her Ritual,

« PreviousContinue »