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the divine scheme in order to understand its earliest rudiments. If we commence with half truths and partial statements, we introduce more falsehood in the process of reasoning than we can ever eliminate in the result. For a certain entireness must be given them in order to make thein conceivable; and whatever is thus added, is untrue. So long as we deal with facts, or events, this inconvenience is avoided.
The true theory of the Church is to be sought in its history.
All artificial arrangements proceed upon hypotheses, which may, or may not, be true, and in religion can never be the whole truth; for this being necessarily incomprehensible, cannot be supposed, or be made, a basis of logical induction. Even in natural history, arbitrary systems, however seemingly methodical, and really convenient, are daily losing ground in the estimation of philosophic observers. Though ostensibly abstracted from facts, they are found after all to have no correlative in nature. They depend upon notions existing in the mind alone, and are perpetually set aside by new discoveries. The mutual connexion of natural phenomena cannot be discovered, except by a reference to that universal truth in which they all cohere, and which is implicitly contained in each. Thus classification is eventually superseded. Every several appearance examined in and for itself, is perceived to reflect, with a clearness proportioned to our own knowledge, that universal idea which is the truth of nature, lying at its centre, and spreading to its circumference, of which the visible universe is the outward image, and every part an appropriate symbol. Such, at least, is the ultimatum to which the human mind is tending by a gradual advance; and in this process the first step is a dim divination of the last. Meanwhile our true vocation is the patient and submissive examination of the facts, taking them for what they are, and not for that which our theories would make them. It is so with religion. Our first business is with the outward facts. That the impression of the divine mind is set on each, we cannot doubt; that they all co-exist in one heavenly plan, bearing the same impress, is also matter of faith: but it may not be given us to trace their connexion distinctly. It is sufficient that we accept every separate revelation of our Father's will implicitly and simply, taking it for what it is, a truth to be received, a gift to be enjoyed, and a command to be obeyed. It is this which makes Religion, including its highest mysteries, the possession of the way-faring man.
It is not for us to say such is the nature of God, and such the condition of man, and then to draw conclusions, as in a system of geometry. Neither may we analyze the Fatherly government of the world, or attempt to re-construct the Church out of its elements. We cannot do so with a blade of grass.
Happy, if brooding with earnest faith on all that is given us to believe, we may catch a glimpse of that master-light (for such there is) which shows every part in its relation to the whole, and gives to knowledge the character of revelation. Is this mysticism? To see in the word and works
of God, one divine and universal truth, of which the Bible is the record, Christianity the substance, and the Church the manifestation :-is it not the common privilege of the saints ? “ We all with open face beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed by that image, from glory to glory, as by the spirit of the Lord.”
Impressed with these convictions, I have sought rather to trace the workings of certain general ideas, in every part of the divine economy, than to develope a regular system. This method, while it gives a desultory character to the work, has occasioned many apparent repetitions, only to be excused from the unspeakable importance of the subject. The actual state of the Church presents a variety of problems, all of which are to be solved by the application of a few fundamental principles, to which we must perpetually
It is only in this way that we can render these intelligible, or prove them to be sufficient.
If the views exhibited in these Sermons be correct, the sameness which this produces, is exactly what might be expected from the uniformity and simplicity of truth.
In a volume of such slight pretensions, to speak of my obligation to recent or contemporary writers, except in the most general terms, would be to claim an originality for my work, on the whole, to which it has no title. I am not, indeed, conscious of having adopted the views of any particular party; nor have I wittingly transferred to my pages the reasonings of
any particular writer. Having undertaken to assert and illustrate the scriptural character of the national Church, I have inade use of all the information within my reach, and only regret that it has not been more extensive ; but the only authorities to which I have deferred is that of Holy Writ, on the one part, and of the Church itself on the other : of the Church, as represented by her own formularies, and apparent structure. On these my whole attention has been ultimately fixed. I have consequently followed out my principles, whither they have led me, independently of any other guidance: and hence the citations and references, with which I have occasionally fortified my statements, are to be regarded, either as vouchers for matters of fact, or as coincidences, adduced in confirmation of my argument; not so much as investing it with the sanction of a venerable or popular name, still less as indicating the sources from which it has been derived, (for in almost every instance they have been supplied by subsequent investigation, but rather as testing, by an independent agreement, the accuracy
of my results. This, however, is no proof of real originality. I may, after all, have been conducted along a beaten path, by the powerful, but insensible influence of other minds, by which my own has been more or less immediately trained ; or, perhaps, by the common impulsion of the age in which I live. All men are subject to a certain impression from both these causes ; but it is reserved for a few, a very few, great masters of thought, (men not always the most con
spicuous in their generation,) to mould this impression into new forms, or even to modify it in any considerable degree.
To touch for a moment upon the influences acting upon the theological press at this time. It is evident that there is something peculiar in the present aspect of religion in this country. Men are divided not so much as Calvinists and Arminians, nor as Churchmen and Non-conformists, (whether Independents in respect of discipline, or Dissenters in respect of doctrine,) nor again as high and low Churchmen, (as touching the nature of catholic Christianity',) nor even as Pro
"These parties may be broadly classified under four heads, according to the attitude which they severally assume to the Christian Church. The existence of an invisible or spiritual Church is equally acknowledged by all as the substance of their belief, apart from which the appointments of religion are utterly without value. The existence of an external or visible Church is a tenet equally universal. Every Christian admits the necessity both of an outward and an inward religion: of something which is seen, and something which is felt; the demonstration of the Spirit, and the power. But the connexion between the two, and again the relation borne by each to the state, is variously regarded; the following being the extreme opinions of each party.
By some the visible Church is pronounced a variable accident, the creature of circumstance and expediency. Viewed on its favourable side this opinion may be considered as a protest against idolatry and formalism.
By others the Church is pronounced essentially visible, having a definitive form, not indeed strictly invariable, but permanently identical, and involved in the original structure. The holders of this opinion are specially opposed to licentious speculation, to indifference, and infidelity.
By each of these, the union of Church and State may be either favoured or opposed. Thus the first are subdivided into low Churchmen and Independents :-the latter into high Churchmen, (of whom