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others have. Brethren, I could do much for the love I bear you ; but I dare not sin. I know they will tell you this is pride and peevishness: the Lord be witness between them and us! ... I am very sensible what it is to be reduced to a morsel of bread. I would do anything to keep myself in the work of God but sin against my God. I dare not do it.? 'I censure none that differ from me,” said the rector of St. Martin, Ludgate, 'as though they displease God: but as to myself, I should violate the peace of my own conscience, which I cannot do, no, not to secure my ministry; though that is, orought to be, dearer to me than my very life; and how dear it is God only knoweth. Out they went, these two thousand honest men, from the Church which they had served so well and loved so much—out they went to seek the pitiless favour of an indifferent nation, to endure suffering, poverty, almost starvation. Mercy they got none; penal enactments forbad even their worship. But the cause was not killed. After weary waiting and many vicissitudes it has triumphed at last, and to-day the principle of religious liberty is far beyond the reach of menace or attack. .
The principle for which the Independents contended was certainly true and sound. They asserted the Christian truth that God is free and that the soul is free, and that the soul's path to its God should be free too. It is a position which in our own time no wise Churchman would dream of contesting. The difference lies in the means of attaining the end. Can it best be gained by the system of separate congregations ? The Independents say 'yes;' we Churchmen say 'no.' And so the appeal must lie to the spirit of the teaching of Jesus Christ. The Saviour said little about the individual soul : he said much about the Christian brotherhood. He said little about worship : he said much about practical love. He did not come to found a series of small associations which should represent particular and local truths : He came to establish one vast comprehensive society which should be like a net cast into the sea, gathering of every kind. The theory of Congregationalism is that each separate Church should consist only of those who have given proof of their acceptance with God : the theory of the Church of England is that every baptised infant is a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven. Ours, at any rate, is the wider way. Times have changed since the Independents seceded under the sacred
banner of Christian freedom. The lesson which they taught has been laid to heart, and at this moment there is no Church in Christendom where tests are fewer, where worship is more varied, where free speech is more tolerated, where ritual is more elastic, where liberty is more pronounced, than in the Established Church of England.
And where, as a matter of practice, Congregationalism by its very nature must fail, and a National Church by its very nature ought to succeed, is among those to whom, from habit or prejudice, public worship is unknown or even distasteful. The services of the sanctuary are not the whole, nay, they are not the half, of the outward expression of the Christian life. "To comfort and help the weak-hearted, to raise up them that fall ; to succour, help, and comfort all that are in danger, necessity, and tribulation ; to show pity upon all prisoners and captives; to defend and provide for the fatherless children and widows, and all that are desolate and oppressed'—this is as much, again I say, this is more, the work of the Church of Jesus Christ than to furnish the accessories of preaching and worship for the comparatively few who are able or willing to appreciate them.
I am, of course, only comparing theories.
In practice there is no religious community which excels the Congregationalists in diffusing the Spirit of Christ over our social, our national, and our political life. But it is done in an individual and not in a corporate capacity: it is not the necessary and consequential outcome of the theoretical system from which it chances to flow.
Are Independents and Churchmen, forgetting a sad and discreditable past, ever likely to join hands? Who shall say ? At present the signs of a reconciliation are not easily discernible, but who can forecast the future? Do you never, in the still and solemn hour of meditation, hear the nearing sounds of another Reformation ? Some of us, especially those who are young and sanguine, often think that we do. These are days of movement and of progress, and dreams are rapidly realised. And surely those of us who are not wedded to particular forms and expressions may profitably strive towards the ideal of a Church national in fact as well as in name, a Church embracing in its fold every Englishman who works and prays and loves, a Church which shall harmonise order and liberty, a Church which shall express in its fullest and most unfettered form what, after all, is the beginning and the ending and the whole of all true religion—the mind which was in Christ Jesus.
BY THE REV. DR. ROSS.
“Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is liberty.'—2 CORINTHIANS iii. 17.
WHEN Sir Walter Scott was on his death-bed, he said to his son-in-law and future biographer : ‘Be a good man, Lockhart, my dear; there is nothing that will bring you comfort like that when you come to lie where I am now lying. And on reading or hearing this, almost the last of all the utterances of the great Scotchman, the question naturally arises : For what end does the Church exist save that of aiding men to be good ? An honest man, it has been said, is the noblest work of God; and whilst not exactly dissenting from that assertion, I would hazard this other one, that the teaching institution, call it by what name you please, Episcopalian, Presbyterian or Congregationalist, which, judged by its leading principles, tends most directly to foster human goodness, which brings to bear upon the growth of our best