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ruling, grasping, ambitious principle, in a word, what is expressively called Popery,-it exalts the will and pleasure of the existing church above all authority, whether of Scripture or antiquity, interpreting the one and disposing of the other by its absolute and arbitrary decree."-P. 100.
The passage immediately following the one above extracted is eminently beautiful, but we have not room for it. We must, however, find space for the following extract, as explaining the subject of this and the next lecture, which is devoted to the “Doctrine of Infallibility Politically Considered."
“ The points to which I wish to direct attention, as involved in the doctrine of Infallibility, are such as the following: That Romanism considers unclouded certainty necessary for a Christian's faith and hope ; that it considers doubt incompatible with practical abidance in the truth; that it aims at forming a complete and consistent theology; that in forming it, it neglects authority, and rests upon abstract arguments; that it criticises and disposes of the christian scheme on antecedent grounds; and that it substitutes a technical and formal obedience for the spirit of love.”—P. 102.
“ The Doctrine of Infallibility Politically Considered,” forms, as we observed, the subject of the fourth lecture; and we must satisfy ourselves with inviting attention to its contents. The discussion of the topics contained in that lecture, lead to the subject matter of the fifth, sixth, and seventh lectures, which are successively conversant with “ The Use of Private Judgment,” “The Abuse of Private Judgment,” and “Instances of the Abuse of Private Judgment;" and most strongly do we recommend their attentive perusal to all who may desire to acquire most important information on a topic of no ordinary difficulty,-one requiring the greatest accuracy and caution,two qualities developed, in no small degree, in the three lectures in question. In the eighth lecture the author maintains the “Indefectibility of the Church Catholic;" and here again must we quote the author's own words, as elucidating the matter in hand. “I have said enough, I hope, in the course of this lecture, by way
of distinguishing between our own and the Roman theology, and of showing that neither our concessions to them are reluctantly made, nor our differences subtle and nugatory, as is objected by opponents. Whether we be right or wrong, our theory of religion has a meaning, and that really distinct from Romanism. Both we and Romanists hold that the church catholic is unerring in its declarations of faith, or saving doctrine ; but we differ from each other as to what is the faith, and what is the church catholic. They maintain that faith depends on the church, we that the church is built on the faith. By church catholic, we mean the church universal, as descended from the apostles ; they those branches of it which are in communion with Rome. They consider the see of St. Peter to have a promise of permanence, we the church catholic and apostolic. Again, they understand by the faith, whatever the church at any time declares to be faith ; we what it has actually so declared from the beginning. We hold that the church catholic will never depart from those outlines of doctrine which the apostles formally published; they that she will never depart in any of her acts from that entire system, written and oral, public and private, explicit and implicit, which they received and taught; we that she has a gift of fidelity, they of discrimination.
“ Again, both they and we anathematize those who deny the faith ; but they extend the condemnation to all who question any decree of the Roman church; we apply it to those only who deny any article of the original apostolic creed. The creed of Romanism is ever subject to increase ; ours is fixed once for all. We confine our anathema to the Athanasian creed; Romanists extend it to Pope Pius's. They cut themselves off from the rest of Christendom; we cut ourselves off from no branch, not even from themselves. We are at peace with Rome ; but she tolerates us as little as any sect or heresy. We admit her baptism and her orders ; her custom is to re-baptize and re-ordain our members who chance to join her.”—P. 252. The ninth and tenth lectures
are occupied with the consideration of “ The Essentials of the Gospel,— The Church's Deposit of Faith ;” and our readers will find an exposition distinguished alike by simplicity and clearness, on reference to the lectures themselves; we will not, cannot venture to make an extract, be it ever so short, from them. “ On Scripture as the Record of Faith," forms the subject of the eleventh lecture, which is followed by lectures “On Scripture as the Record of our Lord's Teaching," and “On Scripture as the Document of Proof in the Early Church," being the twelfth and thirteenth in the series. To analyze their contents would be impracticable, for our observations must be speedily drawn to a close ; suffice it to say, they are in harmony as regards the piety, zeal, and learning displayed in them, with those which have preceded them in the course. We now arrive at the fourteenth and last lecture, “On the Fortunes of the Church.” This is, indeed, a powerful and unanswerable lecture. Let those who have from ignorance or wilfulness misunderstood or misrepresented the teaching of the distinguished author of these lectures, now stand forth and confess their weakness or their guilt. One quotation from it, and we will conclude our remarks.
But, in truth, the whole course of Christianity from the first, when we come to examine it, is but one series of troubles and disorders. Every century is like every other, and to those who live in it seems worse than all times before it. The Church is ever ailing, and lingers on in weakness, always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in her body.'. Religion seems ever expiring, schisms dominant, the light of truth dim, its adherents scattered. The cause of Christ is ever in its last agony, as though it were but a question of time, whether it fails finally this day or another. The saints are ever all but failing from the earth, and Christ all but coming; and thus the day of judgment is literally ever at hand; and it is our duty ever to be looking out for it, not disappointed that we have so often said, ' now is the moment,' and that at the last, contrary to our expectation, truth has somewhat rallied. Such is God's will, gathering in his elect, first one and then another, by little and little, in the intervals of sunshine between storm and storm, or snatching them from the surge of evil, even when the waters rage most furiously. Well may prophets cry out, “How long will it be, O Lord, to the end of these wonders ?' how long will this mystery proceed? how long will this perishing world be sustained by the feeble lights which struggle for existence in its unhealthy atmosphere ? God alone knows the day and the hour when that will at length be which he is ever threatening; meanwhile, thus much of comfort do we gain from what has been hitherto, not to despond, not to be dismayed, not to be anxious at the troubles which encompass us. They have ever been, they ever shall be, they are our portion. The floods are risen, the floods have lift up their voice, the floods lift up their waves. The waves of the sea are mighty, and rage horribly; but yet the Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier!'”—P. 421.
Who can read this passage without emotion ? We will not weaken its effect by our feeble language of praise. Need we add, how cordially, how warmly, how thoroughly we recommend this admirable volume, as a manual of invaluable information on points of the highest and most intense interest to the members of the holy Church throughout the world, the spouse of Christ, the mother of the saints, the pillar of the truth. Alas, we have been fearfully, lamentably neglectful! Popery, ever vigilant, ever active, has availed herself of our culpable, our criminal sloth, and again lifts up her head in the land, whence the piety and catholicity of our blessed forefathers banished her with the arm of truth, expelled her with the weapons of holiness. Yet, even now, she may be, by the blessing of Providence, crushed in this highly favoured land,—not by an unholy union with sectarians, of whatever denomination,—(the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts was followed, immediately followed, by the concession of what is called “the emancipation" of the Romanists)—not by basely truckling, for the sake of a hollow truce, to the bitter enemies of catholic truth, and purchasing temporary repose at the expense of permanent ruin, -not by sanctioning what has been well termed the “protestant popery,” which would erect a papacy in the breast of every individual, and builds, if we may so say, a “Lateran" in the heart of each turbulent or self-satisfied follower of certain crude irregular notions, as contrary to the christian verity as they are inconsistent with christian humility, - but by maintaining firmly, steadily, and unflinchingly, " the faith which was once delivered to the saints." Let us remember that the times have been when our blessed Church was “ as a city that is at unity in itself,” when schismatics and heretics, once convicted by the judgment of the Church, were driven from the society of the faithful, nor allowed to return save after open, painful, and severe penance:-wherefore indeed is not this godly discipline, fraught with such vast blessings to the primitive Church, and solemnly recognised by the Anglican Church, restored throughout the land ? Even in later times, the bright and noble example of the great and good Bishop Wilson is not wanting to excite and arouse his episcopal successors to a similar fearless and apostolical course, in whatever diocese or province they may exercise their sacred functions. Let us call to mind what are our privileges, how great, how mighty, how fearful the responsibility of their neglect or abuse! We have a Church-not infallible, indeed, in minute details, but indefectible in the essentials and fundamentals of her faith. We have an apostolical, and, consequently, episcopal ministry, whose uninterrupted descent may be traced with an accuracy which would be marvellous, did we not recognise the unerring hand of Providence. In that episcopal ministry is undoubtedly vested the administration of those blessed means of grace—the sacraments of baptism and the communion of the most blessed body and blood of Christ. To that episcopal ministry has the mighty power and authority been conveyed and transmitted, which popery would profanely affect to barter for “ silver and gold, the work of men's hands,"—the power and authority of absolution, only restricted by the repentance of the sinner, as the condition upon which such power and authority can be duly and beneficially exercised. Are not these mighty privileges ? Up then, let us be stirring; let us awake from our slumber before it shall be too late. Popery may attempt to lure us by her deceitful splendour, and awe us by her borrowed majesty. Sectarianism may essay to invite us by her pretended moderation, and win us by her assumed simplicity. With neither can we have part or portion; our stand must be taken without doubt or hesitation-our watchword the Holy Catholic Church —that Church which is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone."
Art. X.-Defence of Church Establishments. By J. G. LORI
Glasgow : M‘Phun. 1835.
IN a preceding number, we flatter ourselves that we gave an interesting paper upon the History and Prospects of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
We purpose now to give a general view of the state of religion in that country. From our former paper it will appear that where the episcopal church was established, that there religion was in a thriving condition, and was yielding to its members those blessings which the church of Christ is so well adapted to bestow.
Our opponents have pointed out to us the prosperity of America as an argument against the existence of a national church; from the facts which we shall extract from the excellent work before us, we shall, we trust, without making too bold an assertion, completely overthrow this flimsy apparatus which has been reared by those, whose desire is not only to cast off the nationality of the Church, but to root up its very foundations. In all controversy one argument may be weakened by a better; and if the arguments brought forward on both sides be equally balanced, the subject for ever remains doubtful, and the controversy, so far from being at an end, becomes only the more intricate and unsatisfactory; but Facts, supported by sufficient testimony, cannot be disputed; the opponent is bound to yield the matter to be set at rest, and the established truth to become established law.
Mr. Lorimer has produced those facts in his Defence of Church Establishments, which should ever put to silence all the declamation of dissenters on the prosperous condition of religion in America, and fill every christian heart with the deepest sympathy and concern. We feel ourselves particularly obliged to this gentleman for his admirable work; it indeed may be ranked among the ablest that has ever issued from the press upon the subject. The voluntaries, says his publisher, have here met a champion they little dreamed of encountering, when they set out on their dishonourable crusade; and while the Church, with truth and justice on her side, can reckon upon such men as Mr. Lorimer as her supporters, she has nothing to fear from the foolish and unworthy attempts now making to her injury.
The work itself is a review of the speeches delivered in Dr. Beattie's chapel by. the leading men of the Voluntary Church Association. But it is not our intention at present to allude to the arguments which Mr. Lorimer so ably brings forward to dissipate the dogmata of these voluntaries, but only to introduce those facts relating to the state of religion in America. No better argument for a religious establishment can be drawn than that which is supplied by the facts themselves.
Reverting, for a moment, says Mr. Lorimer, to the testimony of President Dwight, as to the state of religion in the United States at the beginning of this century, or thirty years ago, we find it to have stood thus.-In Connecticut, where the principle of a religious establishment was maintained, there was a population of 251,002, and 209 congregations. In the States south of New England, where the principle of a religious establishment was not acknowledged or maintained, there was a population of 4,033,776, and only 430 congregations. To supply the latter population as fully with ministers and churches as the former, the whole number would need to have been 3344 churches, instead of 430. In Connecticut, continues Dr. Dwight, every
NO. 111.-VOL. II.