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charge delivered in 1797, having mentioned it as his sentiment, and “ assigned his reasons for thinking, that the growth of scepticism and infidelity in the Christian world, is chiefly to be ascribed to an almost universal lukewarmness and indifference in Christians, respecting the effentialş of their religion, the peculiar grounds of their faith, of their hopes, and their fears ;” and, having observed how exceed-'. ingly it concerns the clergy to inform themselves, “ whence arises this unchristian lukewarmness,” he adds, “ Upon the most diligent view of the subject, I am persuaded, that lukewarmness in religion is, in a great measure, to be ascribed to the following causes :" and then specifying four, one of them is, " An INFREQUENCY IN THE PULPIT of those fubje&ts which constitute the PECULIAR DOCTRINES OF CHRISTIANITY."- On this cause, therefore, his Lordfhip continues particularly to expatiate, and urges upon his clergy the removal of it, with the utmost force of pious eloquence and zeal. .
And is there, after all, no ground for this complaint ? Do not these distinguished Heads and Champions of the church, after “ the most diligent view,” understand the fubjeet? Or are they guilty of “gross misrepresentation ?” Is this “ the raving of enthusiasm?" Or will the British Critic and Mr. Daubeny call this " the reviling of feetan riesk?” Men may indeed say what they please, and when they please contradict' at one time what they affirm at another. Thus however does it appear,
That one class of these Divines in vindicating such a conduet,--another in confefsing it, and our Bishops in lamenting it, conspire to establish the fact, in opposition to our Affailants, that many of them have not adhered to the obvious doctrines of the articles; or in other words, do not preach fo evangelically as these forms :- And thus, on the other hand,
(i) Page 21. (k) Brit. Crit. September, 1797, p. 302 ; Guide to the Church, p. 324 ; 378.
do we profess to adhere to their plain meaning ; thus is it confessed that the articles lean to our fide of the question ; and thus do these eminent Prelates recommend, with all their energy, the very style of preaching by which we are characterized, for which we are calumniated, and which only we would here vindicate. · The importance of our subject, however, it is presumed, may justify its more full discussion. Let the reader then only exercise a little patience, and he shall be fully satisfied on the question.
• The REAL SENSE OF THE ARTICLES, AND DOCTRINES OF
OUR REFORMERS investigated, and appealed
:' to, on the question.
· The true - interpretation fought, from-our DIFFERENT FORMS as they illustrate and explain each other; the TITLE, and PREAMBLE annexed to the articles; the CIRCUMSTANCES and OBJECT of our reformers; their OTHER PUBLIC AND APPROVED WRITINGS; and the AUTHORITIES they respected.
M UCH, it has appeared, is done to show, that the articles are not to be interpreted according to their literal and obvious meaning; but that less is often intended in them than seems to be expreljed. The most orthodox of our opponents contend for this extenuating construction of some of the articles. Is there then really any ground for it? “ The meaning of the Articles," the Antijacobin Reviewers have allowed, " is undoubtedly to be fought from the framers of thema." Is there then, in reality, any evidence, or any presumption, that the framers of our articles did not mean to be understood according to the natural, obvious, and full fignification of their words?
Men's words are the usual channel through which they discover what they wish to be known of their intentions. And no men, it is presumed, have afforded greater proof of their abhorrence of every species of duplicity and prevarication, than the original framers b of our articles did : no occafion could be more adapted to call forth their integrity into its full exercise: no set of men ever used greater deliberation, or discovered greater seriousness in any undertaking
(a) January 1800. p. 19. (b) The Martyrs Cranmer, Ridley, &c (c) See Burnet's Hift. of Reformat. Vol. ii. p. 93, 155, 405. Strype's Life of Cranmer, p. 273.
: Besides, we have here their public professions and declarations on these subjects, upon different occasions, under different circumstances, and in a variety of forms. The articles, homilies, and liturgy of our church, are three diftinct fpecies of writings. They were composed at different times, and, in some respects, for different purposes. And yet, in point of doctrine, they uniformly breathe the fame fpirit, and express themselves with the same degree of force. No one of them contracts the ideas, or by any means leffens the import of the rest; but, when compared with honesty, and understood according to the common' rules of interpřeting written compositions, each mutually illustrates and confirms the full, and natural sense, of the others. In this light they were uniformly considered by the great characters who reviewed, and examined them, at their first establishmentd; and, whatever may have been urged to the contrary from a few detached pasages, he must be a very superficial Theologian, who considers them thoroughly, and does not perceive the same exact harmony in them now. To the great disturbance of such Divines as Archdeacon Paley, the doctrines of the articles are “ woven with much industry into her forms of public worship."- -This circumstance, therefore, must materially assist us in discovering the original fense and intention of the whole, and leaves little room to doubt but it was that which is most obviously suggested by the words, when understood according to the common use of language applied to such fubjects.'
If, however, a doubt could reinain of the Design of such words, so repeated, and under such circumstances, even that would be removed by the Title which the Articles bear. " To form an additional barrier," as the Antijacobin Reviewers well express themselves, “ to fix expressly what was fufficiently fixed already by its own quality, to shut the door for ever against such fophiftry," as that of Dr. Paley
(d) See Strype's Eccles. Memorials, p. 32, 84, 85, 210; Ad of Vniformity; &c. (e) Above, p. 20.
and his approvers, "the very articles themselves are averred by the very convocation which framed them, to be framed : for AVOIDING DIVERSITIES OF OPINIONS, and the establishing of consent touching true religion.!”
Now surely the authors of these forms of do&rine, must have best known their own meaning and intention in them. And while they have so unequivocally declared, that this was their object, it must be an extraordinary mode of reasoning that can now prove the contrary. But how could this end be obtained, or even hoped for, if they did not, as clearly as possible, discover their Intention by their Words ? In what other manner was it to be collected ? How otherwise was this uniformity of doctrine to be established, and propagated through the nation? It does not indeed, by any means, appear from hence, as some have perversely argued, that their ideas of confent extended to every subject, and every opinion, that can possibly enter the Theologian's mind. They had, no doubt, immediately in view, the great fubjects then in controversy, and upon which they professedly treated in these Articles; and on each subject, the extent to which they have expressly decided. But so much they must have intended by the phrase: This their avowed objeet rendered necessary; and this is that for which we contend.
But our argument receives a still further confirmation from the Royal DECLARATION, which is prefixed to the articles. This, ivhich, like preambles in general, was made for the express purpose of teaching us the right method of interpretation, has determined the matter in the fullest manner in which words can possibly determine any thing. It speaks of the literal meuning of the said articles, as “ the true and usual” meaning. It prohibits us from " varying or departing from them in the least degree,” or from " affixing any NEW SENSE to any article." And what is not a
. (f).Jan. 1900. p. 19. (g) The Confeffional; Frend in his Letters to Bishop Pretyman; and others who wish to disparage subofcription to human forms.