« PreviousContinue »
have retorted, that they likewise fully It is not wonderful that after the admitted the uses of the bodily organi. Reformation, under the free developzation of religion, but would die ment of opinion that has since then sooner than let it stifle the spirit which existed in all Protestant countries, it was only meant to subserve; nor the fundamental opposition of which we were they slow to match the nicknames have spoken should have become more of their antagonists with some round and more prominently exhibited. Beabuse of formalists and pharisees, tween the two extremes, Spirit withwherever the same might lurk. The out Form and Form without Spirit, question was thus, as it is at this day, the various religious communities have a question of degree ; and, like every veered; each happily persuaded of its such question, scarcely admitting of own absolute perfection while it lasted, any termination but the weariness of and all (as in controversy bound) the combatants or of the public. vigorously charging their rivals with
That each view of religion was liable the most remote and repulsive forms of to grievous perversion is only to say the views the said rivals appeared to that each was in the hands of men. advocate. In general these charges There certainly must be somewhere a were pretty equally true on all sides. due proportion of the ecclesiastical The present age is no exception. and spiritual elements to each other; and no doubt the principle of Christian
Still love did actually bind men to that pro- Doth the old instinct bring back the old portion as long as the “first love" lasted. As it failed, the failure brought its own punishment in dis- and the old necessities of controversy order and confusion. Each might bring with them the same old shifts then gain an accidental superiority; and devices. Plain people will know but the process was obvious and irre- how to hold the balance. The Ox sistible by which the men of rule and onian divine is at heart a papist, upon discipline, possessing the places of the same principles that the evangelipower, gradually overcame opposition, cal clergyman is secretly an indepenand being left unbalanced by the re- dent. Jewel was “an irreverent dissenquisite spiritual antagonism, inevitably ter” with exactly the same amount of gravitated earthward. The caloric of certainty that Laud was intriguing to be spiritual ardour either evaporating a cardinal. He who with one piercing altogether, or being confined to parti- eye has caught Dr. Wiseman in a cular regions (the monastery or the de- certain apartment of Oriel College, sert), the mass closed, condensed, crys- planning the best method of swamping tallized, and the frozen product was the existing Church Establishment, Popery.
has doubtless with the other observed At length a counter effort was Mr. Baptist Noel in secret conclave made. That prodigious man, Luther, with Mr. John Burnet for the same was the chief instrument of awaken- purpose. When will men rise above ing the western world to attempt it. these childish tricks ? When will they A sudden access of spiritual heat learn to write under the eye of God entered the torpid frame of the and their own conscience, and cease to Church. In some places the old or. think that those falsehoods may be ganization could not stand the expan- safely vented in religious disputes sive power, and burst in shivers around which on any other subject would meet it; in others it was considerably with the disgust and contempt of the softened and enlivened by it, and world? might have been far more so but for the But we must not lose our temper unfortunate bond of pretended infalli- (like so many other mediators) while bility which made the Roman teachers exhorting our neighbours to keep too proud to be taught. In others, theirs. Our readers will now have again, the spiritual impulse, unguided, perceived the general purport of the ran loose of all restraint, proclaimed it dispute. The rival parties, to judge an insult to enforce any, and presented from their own way of speaking, which in Quakerism and similar formations is the only fair way of judging, appear the proper pole of ultra-Catholicism both equally to admit that the inward each mistaken, because each extreme. spiritual state is the chief point alike
in Church and Individual: they differ fidence in Christ the condition at all as to the means which they conceive times of life) is neither that of the that God has provided to preserve it. Church of England, nor can by any And upon this latter point, too, the artifice be kept practically clear of difference is to a considerable extent antinomianism; while their adversaone only of degree. For both profess ries proclaim that every addition to to think that the arrangements of the that condition, or modification of it, Church are of great utility and impor- under any circumstances of guilt tance to religion; but the one, the whatsoever, amounts to recognising party stigmatized by their adversaries the
proper merit of human works, and as popish, declare their conviction that subverts the freedom of the Gospel. the episcopal succession of the mi- We know well how bitterly contronistry and due reception of the sacra- versialists resent any attempt to rob ments are ordinarily indispensable for them of a good thriving question of the purposes of God-matters to which dispute; on that alone they are beaumen are perpetually bound, irrespec- tifully unanimous; and therefore we tively of any perception of mere tem- anticipate an universal murmur of porary utility; the others, whom their dissatisfaction when we venture to adversaries compliment with the title state our long established conviction, of ultra-Protestant, maintain that such that this last question is in a greater external ordinances, whether of men degree a question of words than any or things, have little or no claim be- other in the whole compass of divinity; yond that palpable production of direct -that is, that both parties, when spiritual improvement which originally teaching practical religion, mean algave them birth. The one, accord- most literally the same thing, differing ingly, regard the whole scheme of the just in the order in which they prefer Church of Christ as something very to name the two elements whose solemn and mysterious, its structure in relative importance is disputed ; the its chief characteristics unalterable, watchword of the one being “ Belief and its sacramentalrites, when received on which Holiness follows," of the by faith, as possessing a mode of effi- other, “ Holiness which is founded in cacy which in the present state of Belief.” Try it by one simple unanbeing we cannot expect fully to under- swerable test. Place an Arminian stand, but which we have reason to and a Calvinistic minister of equal believe to be of the deepest moment. qualifications and experience (after The others reject all such supposi- they have sufficiently fought the whole tions as the inventions of a mystical quinquarticular controversy through, temper, and while preserving, in obe- and been much disposed to wish the dience to our Lord's commands, the existence of a little private inquisition rites of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, for each other's heresy) by the bed-side consider the whole purpose of these of a sick man; ask the poor penitent, to be intelligible on very ordinary after they have left him, to tell you the grounds, and all other Church regula- tenor of their exhortations; and we tions to be left entirely free to all men agree to forfeit all claims to theoloto arrange as shall to them seem most gical sagacity if there be found one expedient. In support of their respec- hair's breadth difference in the subtive views the one appeals to the spirit stance of the instructions of the two. of Christian antiquity as evolving the After all, can any thing parry that ? meaning of the briefer hints of Scrip- The immense importance of the ques. ture; the other considers such an autho- tion in Luther's day, whose position rity precarious, or even worse than pre- was in many respects exceedingly like carious, and professes to discover an that of St. Paul himself, arose out of almost immediate corruption of Chris- the peculiar circumstances of the time, tianity through the whole world after and the nature of the battle he had to the death of the apostles, if not be- wage against the enormous practical fore it. Into connected questions we abuses of the Church. The axe could cannot now enter. The principal is be laid to the root of those fearful that of the relation of Faith and prac- abuses, that sagacious and powerful tical Holiness to Justification; on which spirit saw, only by incessantly preachthe Oxonians hold that the pure Lu- ing down the popular delusion of an theran theory (which makes mere con- earthly purchase-money of any kind for heaven; and that preaching could the three common creeds. Thus he rest only on the deep foundation of denies on the one hand the validity of the doctrine of a gratuitous pardon any ministerial commission not trans. through merits wholly external to our mitted by the alleged representatives own; and the first conscious act of the apostles; and on the other exwhereby the adult man can approach plodes the unwarrantable, because the protecting shadow of these merits altogether modern, pretences of the must needs be (from the very nature Archbishop of Rome (any more than of the case in rational voluntary the Archbishop of Canterbury) to agents) the knowledge and the due despotic supremacy over his brethren. relying estimate of the same ;—but we As to the bodies that lie beyond the have not yet had the misfortune to episcopal polity, he gives them pretty meet with any divine of any school in plainly to understand that he thinks our Church, who in substance denies them liable to all the consequences that any one of these propositions.
may result from contradicting (under We may now approach a little of course the palliation of ignorance nearer to the parties, if we can at all in its various degrees,) the express will continue to do so without burning our of God.* As he considers à life fingers. We acknowledge it is a within the Church (thus understood) somewhat unmanageable team we have to be of such moment, the rites that to keep together, and quite enough to commence and continue it will assume try the skill even of old charioteers proportional importance in his eyes ; like ourselves.
and he speaks with mysterious reveIt is plain, then, that from the rence of the initiatory ceremony of “Anglo-Catholic's" peculiar impression Baptism, the continuative sustenance of the importance of the Church as of the Eucharist, and the solemn act, an express creation of God, and the long discontinued among us, which appointed home of believers in Him, excludes offenders from this mystical he will insist constantly upon the un- society. The superintendents of the qualified duty of being found in its Church he holds to be, by a divine communion. That communion, as we authority, the bishops in descent from understand him, he considers to em- the apostles; reserving of course the brace all bodies, however defective in perpetual right to abandon even an other respects, which have maintained episcopal teacher of heresy. In short, the old continuous succession of the he believes the Church to have been ministry, and not lost the funda- fired once for all in that form which mentals of the faith, as exhibited in we find in the successive times of the
In the spirit of all this—mutatis mutandis—the genuine Presbyterian theory coincides. The Presbyterian clergy have ever claimed for their mode of government and discipline the authority of a permanent unchangeable law founded on Scripture, and there fixed once for all. In the particular question as to what that original apostolic government was, the Presbyterian differs from the Church of England, in the principle (the point now alone interesting the public) that whatever was then fixed by the apostles is thenceforth and for ever unalterable; he has ever taken his resolute stand with the Oxford divines. How earnestly the perpetual obligation of one original scriptural system, complete to the minutest particular, and to the exclusion (and indeed the abhorrence) of all others, was maintained by the founders of British Presbyterianism, the readers of Hooker need not be informed. In the practical application of Church authority, however, there seems to be as yet a good deal of difference between the decisions of the divines of Oxford and Edinburgh; the former admitting limitations, the latter apparently none; the most popular and powerful Presbyterian party indeed stating the claims of the Church in a much more decisive and unqualified manner than any other school of theology now existing outside the Church of Rome. See the late address of the “ Free Church of Scotland,” in which the interference of the civil authority, on any pretext whatever, with Church nominations or Church punishments, is urged with great force and eloquence to be tantamount to a " denial of Christ.' Some of the most energetic of the leaders of this interesting movement have considered it to be their duty, as Presbyterians, to resolve in the affirmative an important practical question—whether Christian communion ought to be refused to any who question this decision ?
Apocalypse, of Ignatius, of Irenæus, of marvel. But without entering mi. Cyprian ; that God, as the Author not nutely into the analysis of specific of confusion but of order, framed it to questions (which, as we have already be a perpetually expanding republic of stated, is not within our present scope), co-equal episcopates under Christ; and we must be allowed to say, that in the that any thing which tends to infringe writings of the professed revivers of this constitution, whether in the direc- the ancient theology there has been a tion of monarchical despotism (as Po- good deal to excite opposition, and to pery) or of democratic despotism (as justify it too. We do not allude so Independency), is equally a desertion much to the theological doctrines of the command and design of God. themselves when we say this; for, And in support of this he confidently whatever may be our opinion of the appeals to the first ages of the Church, real amount of proof that can be of which records so abundantly sur,
brought either to sustain them as true, vive; and defies alike the papist and or to prove them the doctrines of our the independent to find a shadow of chief divines, we are really forced their speculations there.
to express our conviction that the Such are the general views (as far public was for the most part very imas we can collect them from the enor- perfectly informed what the doctrines mous multitude of brochures that sur. truly were, about whose tendencies round us) which, in purposed opposi- they heard such vague and alarming tion to the Romanist's exclusive claims
To this day the controto Catholicism, and of the modern Dis. versy has not produced one book senter's contemptuous rejection of that which can be called a fair and comattribute, have assumed the title of plete exposition of the state of the Anglo-Catholic theology. The practi. whole question. Is apostolic succescal writings of this school of teachers sion really essential to a rightly conare of course deeply imbued with the stituted church? Is Baptism more spirit of their theoretical views. Their than an outward introduction to an chief object is to impress humility and outward church, or the Eucharist more reverence; for these, they tell us, are than a memorial rite? These are imwhat the age chiefly needs. A life of portant questions indeed; but these solicitous self-government, daily and were not the points that agitated the even studied self-denial, the cross not mass of the public. Alas! we feel such outward alone but inward too, and a matters far too feebly for them alone constant realizing of the presence of ever to affect us thus. But there is God in his ordinances--such are the in the public mind a hatred of priestly topics on which they principally insist. domination, and of popery as its most And that in their style there is a very fearful embodiment, which is a just unusual beauty, refinement, and ten- hatred, a rightful, and well-grounded, derness, few, we suppose, on any side and conscientious hatred ; a hatred will be disposed to question.
built upon centuries of gloomy expeAgainst these op ns, we need
rience, and which no man should dare scarcely tell our readers, an opposition trifle with: and this most legitimate of no ordinary force has subsisted from feeling these accomplished writers from nearly the period of their first pub- the recesses of their colleges unduly lication. That this controversy, like overlooked, or even at times were so every other protracted polemical en- very misguided as to treat with a kind counter in our Church history, should of subdued and compassionate sarcasm. abound in exaggerated criminations of Those who propose views which they all kinds, no one who bad given up must be conscious have, whether right the expectation of modern miracles or wrong, been suffered to fall into could fail to anticipate. That it abeyance, are bound in common Chrisshould have become a serious question tian charity to be excessively careful on one side whether certain opposing how they alarm the conscientious fears views were not considerably “worse of good men. It is indeed most idle than atheism," on the other whether to say that the views which we have “ Antichrist” in person had not be- sketched are popery; they cannot well come incarnate, no one even mode. be that, unless the views of the second rately versed in Strype and Collier, and third centuries of Christianity were in Fuller and Burnet, will very deeply popish; but it is perfectly true that
there is much in them which may be liefs and practices, how imprudent the represented so as to look very like it, forms of expression, which could occaexactly as there is abundance in the sion the danger this composition was forms and expressions of the early. intended to remedy; and in the second ages which it has always been the easy place, how still more strangely unacartifice of Romish advocates to con- quainted with the state of public feelfound under similarity of names with ing must have been the author, to the unhappy inventions of later times. couch his treatise in such a form that And if to this be added an unsea- at the time of its publication only sonable gentleness studiously adopted the most indulgent critic could be ex. in speaking of that grievously cor- pected to discover this to have been its rupted Church, and an impatient que- object! rulousness as to the failures or diffi. In the exceeding veneration of the culties of our own, no one need Anglo-Catholics for all that bears the wonder at unfriendly suspicions arising stamp of antiquity, there is also a as to the object of the entire move- danger which needs to be carefully ment. If men do hold the very inno- guarded against. However the Spirit cent doctrine that the Church of
of God may have been present with Christ has ever remained in visible
the early church, there is most sure perpetuity on earth; that a succession and sufficing proof that it was under derived through corrupt Rome is yet no constant inspiration. This once valid and real, even as a man though admitted, criticism is legitimate. The morally and physically diseased can Fathers are of higher value than an possess and transmit property; if men age like ours is willing to admit, as will not borrow her own doctrine of theologians of a very lofty and unexclusive salvation, and prefer with worldly cast of thought; and they are Hooker not to deny to her members still more valuable as witnesses to the that possibility of heaven which they hereditary beliefs of the Church ; but deny to us; still it is needful so to do there is still no trace about them of this that our unabated abhorrence of any thing which should emancipate her corruptions shall be distinctly them from the authority of a fair and known; it is not needful that we liberal criticism. As it is quite cershould gaze with languid and desir- tain that some erroneous practices stole ing eyes upon visions of that unity in on the unsuspecting simplicity of which we profess to believe impossible the third and fourth centuries, this is while she remains the thing she is; as enough to warrant a sympathizing inif it were not an old moral axiom that deed, but an independent examination men ought to beware how they habi. of their views in even the second. tuate themselves to desire even un- There is surely a medium between the der conditions, that which they know unwarrantable vituperation of theorists they cannot without those conditions like Mr. Isaac Taylor and the ascriprightfully possess. The very produce tion' of infallibility. They are invän tion of such a treatise as the famous luable evidences, but the witness must Ninetieth Tract shows how unguarded not shirk cross-examination. We must have been the language that could freely confess with Jewel and others make it necessary or expedient to ad. of the most Protestant of our old minister that most discreditable correc- divines, we do think that nothing imtive. It is now generally understood portantly erroneous in religion has that this treatise was written to show ever yet been shown to be really cathat our Church in her Articles left her tholic through the wbole course of members free as to their beliefs of cer- these earlier ages; but this admission tain primitive tenets, and that she did not will still leave open to examination a necessarily oppose any thing that could great variety of minor questions that be fairly deemed catholic in Romanism, must stand or fall by their own merits. even while denouncing the real errors In those of our own great divines whose of that system,—thus to prevent dearest studies, next to the Scriptures thoughtless enthusiasts from seeking of truth, lay among these venerable Catholicism there ; but in the first authors, we find the true medium for place, how mismanaged must have the English churchman; in Hooker, been the enthusiasm for primitive be- and Bramhall, and Hammond, and