Графични страници
PDF файл

who, besides Purity of Doctrine, are careful to maintain that Apostolical Succession, preserved to them hitherto by a gracious and special Providence? I should not much fear to risque the whole controversy on the answer which a simple unprejudiced mind would naturally make to these two questions.

Observe, too, how often those principles, which are usually called, in scorn, High-Churchmanship, drop as it were incidentally from the pens of the sacred writers, professedly employed on other subjects. “How shall they preach, except they be sent ?"_“Let a man so account of us, as of the Ministers of Christ, and Stewards of the mysteries of God.”- -“ No man taketh this honour to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” I do not think it possible for any one to read such places as these with a fair and clear mind, and not to perceive that it is better and more scriptural to have, than to want, Christ's special commission for conveying His Word to the people, and consecrating and distributing the pledges of His holy Sacrifice, if such commission be any how attainable ;—better, and more scriptural, if we cannot remove all doubt, at least to prefer that communion which can make out the best probable title, provided always, that nothing heretical, or otherwise immoral, be inserted in the terms of communion.

Why then should any man here in Britain, fear or hesitate boldly to assert the authority of the Bishops and Pastors of the Church, on grounds strictly evangelical and spiritual : as bringing men nearest to Christ our Saviour, and conforming them most exactly to His mind, indicated both by His own conduct, and by the words of His Spirit in the Apostolic writings ? Why should we talk so much of an establishment, and so little of an APOSTOLICAL SUCCESSION ? Why should we not seriously endeavour to impress our people with this plain truth ;—that by separating themselves from our communion, they separate themselves not only from a decent, orderly, useful society, but from the ONLY CHURCH IN THIS REALM WHICH HAS A RIGHT TO BE QUITE SURE THAT SHE HAS THE LORD'S BODY TO GIVE TO His PEOPLE?

Nor need any man be perplexed by the question, sure to be presently and confidently asked, “Do you then unchurch all the Presbyterians, all Christians who have no Bishops? Are they to be shut out of the Covenant, for all the fruits of Christian Piety, which seem to have sprung up not scantily among them ?” Nay, we are not judging others, but deciding on our own conduct. We in England cannot communicate with Presbyterians, as neither can we with Roman Catholics, but we do not therefore exclude either from salvation. Necessary to Salvation,” and “ necessary to Church Communion,” are not to be used as convertible terms. Neither do we desire to pass any sentence on other persons of other countries ; but we are not to shrink from our deliberate views of truth and duty, because difficulties may be raised about the case of such persons ; any more than we should fear to maintain the paramont necessity of Christian belief, because similar difficulties may be raised about virtuous Heathens, Jews, or Mahometans. To us such questions are abstract, not practical : and whether we can answer them or no, it is our business to keep fast hold of the Church Apostolical, whereof we are actual members; not merely on civil or ecclesiastical grounds, but from real personal love and reverence, affectionate reverence to our Lord and only Saviour. And let men seriously bear in mind, that it is one thing to slight and disparage this holy Succession where it may be had, and another thing to acquiesce in the want of it, where it is, (if it be any where,) really unattainable.

I readily allow, that this view of our calling has something in it too high and mysterious to be fully understood by unlearned Christians. But the learned, surely, are just as unequal to it. It is part of that ineffable mystery, called in our Creed, The Communion of Saints : and with all other Christian mysteries, is alove the understanding of all alike, yet practically alike within reach of all, who are willing to embrace it by true Faith. Experience shews, at any rate, that it is far from being ill adapted to the minds and feelings of ordinary people. On this point evidence might be brought from times, at first glance the most unpromising ; from the early part of the 17th century. The hold which the propagandists of the

Holy Discipline” obtained on the fancies and affections of the people, of whatever rank, age, and sex, depended very much on their incessant appeals to their fancied Apostolical succession. They found persons willing and eager to suffer or rebel, as the case might be, for their system; because they had possessed them with the notion, that it was the system handed down from the Apostles,

a divine Episcopate ;'' so Beza called it. Why should we despair of obtaining, in time, an influence, far more legitimate and less dangerously exciting, but equally searching and extensive, by the diligent inculcation of our true and scriptural claim ?

For it is obvious, that, among other results of the primitive doetrine of the Apostolical Succession, thoroughly considered and followed

up, it would make the relation of Pastor and Parishioner far more engaging, as well as more aweful, than it is usually considered at présent. Look on your Pastor as acting by man's commission, and you may respect the authority by which he acts, you may venerate and love his personal character ; but it can hardly be called a religious veneration; there is nothing, properly, sacred about him. But once learn to regard him as “ the Deputy of Christ, for reducing man to the obedience of God;" and every thing about him becomes changed, every thing stands in a new light. In public and in private, in church and at home, in consolation and in censure, and above all, in the administration of the Holy Sacraments, a faithful man naturally considers, “ By this His messenger Christ is speaking to me; by his very being and place in the world, he is a perpetual witness to the truth of the sacred history, a perpetual earnest of Communion with our Lord to those who come duly prepared to His Table." In short it must make just all the difference in every part of a Clergyman's duty, whether he do it, and be known to do it, in that Faith of his commission from Christ, or no.

How far the analogy of the Aaronical priesthood will carry us, and to what extent we must acknowledge the reserve imputed to the formularies of our Church on this whole subject of the Hierarchy; and how such reserve, if real, may be accounted for ;—these are questions worthy of distinct consideration.

For the present let the whole matter be brought to this short issue. May it not be said both to Clergy and Laity ; “ Put your“ selves in your children's place, in the place of the next generation “ of believers. Consider in what way they will desire you to have “ acted, supposing them to value aright, (as you must wish them,) “ the means of communion with Christ; and as they will then “ wish you to have acted now, so act in all matters affecting that “ inestimable privilege."


The 36th Canon provides that “no person shall hereafter be “ received into the Ministry.

except he shall first subscribe" certain “ three Articles.” The second of these is as follows.

“ That the Book of Common Prayer, and of Ordering of Bishops, Priests, and " Deacons, containeth in it nothing contrary to the Word of God, and that it " may lawfully so be used; and that he himself will use the form in the said "Book prescribed, in public Prayer, and administration of the Sacraments, “ and none other."

Now here is certainly a grave question to all who have subscribed this Article. We need not say, it precludes them from acquiescing in any changes, that are lawfully made in the Common Prayer ; but surely it makes it most incumbent on them, to inquire carefully whether the Parties altering it have a right to do so; e.g. should any foreign Power or Legislature, or any private Nobleman or Statesman at home, pretend to reform the Prayer Book, of course we should all call it an usurpation, and refuse to obey it; or rather we should consider the above subscription to be a religious obstacle to our obeying it. So far is clear. The question follows; where is the competent authority for making alterations? Is it not also clear, that it does not lie in the British Legislature, which we know to be composed not only of believers, but also of infidels, heretics, and schismatics; and which probably in another year may cease to be a Christian body even in formal profession? Can even a Committee of it, ever so carefully selected, absolve us from our subscriptions ? Whence do laity derive their power over the Clergy? Can even the Crown absolve us ? or a commission from the Crown? If then some measure of tyranny be practised against us as regards the Prayer Book, HOW ARE WE TO ACT?











I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church. Nic. Creed.

THERE are many persons who have the happiness of being members of that pure and Apostolical branch of Christ's holy Church, which, as it is established in this our country, we call “ the Church of England;" persons who attend with regularity and devotion to her services, and have participated in the benefits of her Sacraments; who may yet have no very clear idea either of the nature of that body which we call “ the Church” in general, or of the peculiar circumstances and events which have led to the present position and constitution of that portion of it to which we belong.

To such persons it may not be unacceptable if we present them in these pages with a short account of “ the Church ;” of that institution which, previous to His return to the regions of His heavenly glory, our Lord bequeathed to the world, to be cherished and enjoyed as a precious legacy, until His coming again; of that body which He framed for the reception of the first gifts of His Almighty Spirit, and for the transmission of those precious gifts from age to age, to the end of time. Such an account will naturally lead to a brief statement of the manner in which it has pleased Providence to bless us, in this our own island, with a branch of that holy institution; and thus to have established, and to continue

« ПредишнаНапред »