Графични страници
PDF файл

a most dangerous infringement on our rights, on the part of the State. The Legislature has lately taken upon itself to remodel the dioceses of Ireland; a proceeding which involves the appointment of certain Bishops over certain Clergy, and of certain Clergy under certain Bishops, without the Church being consulted in the matter. I do not say whether or not harm will follow from this particular act with reference to Ireland ; but consider whether it be not in itself an interference with things spiritual.

Are we content to be accounted the mere creation of the State, as schoolmasters and teachers may be, or soldiers, or magistrates, or other public officers ? Did the State make us ? can it unmake us ? can it send out missionaries ? can it arrange dioceses ? Surely all these are spiritual functions; and Laymen may as well set about preaching, and consecrating the Bread and Wine, as assume these. I do not say the guilt is equal; but that, if the latter is guilt, the former is. Would St. Paul, with his good will, have suffered the Roman power to appoint Timothy, Bishop of Miletus, as well as Ephesus ? Would Timothy at such a bidding have undertaken the charge? Is not the notion of such an order, such an obedience, absurd ! Yet has it not been realized in what has lately happened ? For in what is the English State at present different from the Roman formerly? Neither can be accounted members of the Church of CHRIST. No one can say the British Legislature is in our communion, or that its members are necessarily even Christians. What pretence then has it for, not merely advising, but superseding the Ecclesiastical Power ?

Bear with me, while I express my fear that we do not, as much as we ought, consider the force of that article of our Belief, “ The One Catholic and Apostolic Church.” This is a tenet so important as to have been in the Creed from the beginning. It is mentioned there as a fact, and a fact to be believed, and therefore practical Now what do we conceive is meant by it? As people vaguely take it in the present day, it seems only an assertion that there is a number of sincere Christians scattered through the world. But is not this a truism ? who doubt it? who can deny that there are people in various places who are sincere believers ? what comes of this ? how is it important ? why should it be placed as an article of faith, after the belief in the Holy Ghost? Doubtless the only true and satisfactory meaning is that which our Divines have ever taken, that there is on earth an existing Society, Apostolic as founded by the Apostles, Catholic because it spreads its branches in every place; i. e. the Church Visible with its Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. And this surely is a most important doctrine ; for what can be better news to the bulk of mankind than to be told that CHRIST, when He ascended, did not leave us orphans, but appointed representatives of Himself to the end of time?

“ The necessity of believing the Holy Catholic Church,” says Bishop Pearson, in his Exposition of the Creed, “ appeareth first “ in this, that Christ hath appointed it as the only way to eternal “ life .... Christ never appointed two ways to heaven, nor did “ He build a Church to save some, and make another institution for “ other men's salvation. There is none other name under heaven “ given among men whereby we must be saved, but the name of “ JESUS; and that name is no otherwise given under heaven than “ in the Church. This is the congregation of those persons here “ on earth which shall hereafter meet in heaven. .... There is a “ necessity of believing the Catholic Church, because except a man “ be of that, he can be of none. Whatsoever Church pretendeth to “ a new beginning, pretendeth at the same time to a new Church“ dom, and whatsoever is so new is none.” This indeed is the unanimous opinion of our Divines, that, as the Sacraments, so Communion with the Church, is “ generally necessary to salva“ tion,” in the case of those who can obtain it.

If then we express our belief in the existence of One Church on earth from CHRIST's coming to the end of all things, if there is a promise it shall continue, and if it is our duty to do our part in our generation towards its continuance, how can we with a safe conscience countenance the interference of the Nation in its concerns? Does not such interference tend to destroy it? Would it not destroy it, if consistently followed up? Now, may we sit still and keep silence, when efforts are making to break up, or at least materially to weaken that Ecclesiastical Body which we know is intended 10 last while the world endures, and the safety of which is committed to our keeping in our day? How shall we answer for it, if we transmit that Ordinance of God less entire than when it came to us?

Now what am I calling on you to do? You cannot help what has been done in Ireland ; but you may PROTEST against it. You may as a duty protest against it in public and private ; you may keep a jealous watch on the proceedings of the Nation, lest a second act of the sanie kind be attempted. You may keep it before you as a desirable object that the Irish Church should at some future day meet in Synod and protest herself against what has been done; and then proceed to establish or rescind the State injunction, as may be thought expedient.

I know it is too much the fashion of the times to think any earnestness for ecclesiastical rights unseasonable and absurd, as if it were the feeling of those who lived among books and not in the world. But it is our duty to live among books, especially to live by ONE BOOK, and a very old one; and therein we are enjoined to “ keep that good thing which is committed unto us,” to “neglect not our gifts.” And when men talk, as they sometimes do, as if in opposing them we were standing on technical difficulties instead of welcoming great and extensive benefits which would be the result of their measures, I would ask them, (letting alone the question of their beneficial nature, which is a question,) whether this is not being wise above that is written, whether it is not doing evil that good may come. We cannot know the effects which will follow certain alterations; but we can decide that the means by which it is proposed to attain them are unprecedented and disrespectful to the Church. And when men say, the day is past for stickling about ecclesiastical rights,” let them see to it, whether they do not use substantially the same arguments to maintain their position, as those who say, “ The day is past for being a Christian.”

Lastly, is it not plain that by showing a bold front and defending the rights of the Church, we are taking the only course which can make us respected ? Yielding will not persuade our enemies to desist from their efforts to destroy us root and branch. We cannot hope by giving something to keep the rest. Of this surely we have had of late years sufficient experience. But by resisting strenuously, and contemplating and providing against the worst, we may actually prevent the very evils we fear. To prepare for persecution may be the way to avert it.

Sold at Messrs. Rivingtons', St. Paul's Churchyard, London, at the price of 2d. per sheet, or 7s. per 50 copies; of whom the Tracts may be had on the first day of every month.


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


ATTEMPTS are making to get the Liturgy altered. My dear Brethren, I beseech you, consider with me whether you ought not to resist the alteration of even one jot or tittle of it. Though you would in your own private judgments wish to have this or that phrase or arrangement amended, is this a time to concede one tittle ?

Why do I say this ? because, though most of you would wish some immaterial points altered, yet not many of you agree in those points, and not many of you agree what is and what is not immaterial. If all your respective emendations are taken, the alterations in the Services will be extensive; and though each will gain something he wishes, he will lose more from those alterations which he did not wish. Tell me, are the present imperfections (as they seem to each) of such a nature, and so many, that their removal will compensate for the recasting of much which each thinks to be no imperfection, or rather an excellence ?

There are persons who wish the Marriage Service emended; there are others who would be indignant at the changes proposed. There are some who wish the Consecration Prayer in the Holy Sacrament to be what it was in King Edward's first book; there are others who think this would be an approach to Popery. There are some who wish the imprecatory Psalıns omitted; there are others who would lament this omission as savoring of the shallow and detestable liberalism of the day. There are sonie who wish the Services shortened; there are others who think we should have far more Services, and more frequent attendance at public worship than we have.

How few would be pleased by any given alterations; and how many pained !

But once begin altering, and there will be no reason or justice in stopping, till the criticisms of all parties are satisfied. Thus will not the Liturgy be in the evil case described in the wellknown story, of the picture subjected by the artist to the observations of passers-by? And, even to speak at present of comparatively immaterial alterations, I mean such as do not infringe upon the doctrines of the Prayer Book, will not it even with these be a changed book ? and will not that new book be for certain an inconsistent one, the alterations being made, not on principle, but upon chance objections urged from various quarters?

But this is not all. A taste for criticism grows upon the mind. When we begin to examine and take to pieces, our judgment becomes perplexed, and our feelings unsettled. I do not know whether others feel this to the same extent, but for myself, I confess there are few parts of the Service that I could not disturb myself about, and feel fastidious at, if I allowed my mind in this abuse of reason. First, e.g. I might object to the opening sentences; “ they are not evangelical enough ; Christ is not mentioned in them; they are principally from the Old Testament.” Then I should criticise the Exhortation, as having too many words, and as antiquated in style. I might find it hard to speak against the Confession ; but “ the Absolution,” it might be said, " is not strong enough; it is a mere declaration, not an announcement of pardon to those who have confessed.” And so on.

Now I think this unsettling of the mind a frightful thing; both to ourselves, and more so to our flocks. They have long regarded the Prayer Book with reverence as the stay of their faith and devotion. The weaker sort it will make sceptical; the better it will offend and pain. Take, e. g. an alteration which some have offered in the Creed, to omit or otherwise word the clause, “ He descended into hell." Is it no comfort for mourners to be told that Christ Himself has been in that unseen state, or Paradise, which is the allotted place of sojourn for departed spirits. Is it not very easy to explain the ambiguous word, is it any great harm if it is misunderstood, and is it not very difficult to find any substitute for it in harmony with the composition of the Creed? I suspect we should find the best men in the number of those who would retain it as it is. On the other hand, will not the unstable learn from us a habit of criticising what they should never think of but as a divine voice supplied by the Church for their need?

But as regards ourselves, the Clergy, what will be the effect of this temper of innoration in us? We have the power to bring about changes in the Liturgy; shall we not exert it? Hare we

« ПредишнаНапред »