Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

pretation, though “we” (the Apostles) “ have no such custom, neither the church of God,"—they who rely on their spurious judgment at this day, in points irreconcileable with the practice

every respect, contradicts that which is predicated of the true Church, it follows, as an inevitable consequence, that it must be a body of Antichrist. And such a church is the Church of England, which rests entirely upon Acts of Parliament and brute force ; which is supported by violence, and exists by violence ; for every farthing of money that is paid into the Babylonian treasury, in the way of tithe, is by violence, and is only paid because men know very well that if it is not paid, there will soon be marshalled against them a posse of constables, with warrants and other tender mercies of the great whore, &c. The wife of Antichrist is both a hypocrite and a thief; talks of mercy and charity, but tithes, mint, anise, and cummin,-tithing she does to the uttermost farthing." “ The church of England must soon fall, because the people's voice is against it."

“ Should the church of England be termed, the crimson whore of Canterbury,'' the master work of the devil's contrivance,''the Juggernaut of England,' ' the corrupter of the whole frame of society,' ' a conspicuous apostasy,' 'the whore of Babylon,' • Antichrist,' the Babylonian woman,' 'the mother of harlots,' and her clergy be designated her heathen and popish caste of priests,'' masquerading wolves,' 'belly gods,' 'black-footed locusts, and murderers,' with scores of such charitable epithets, which I could really produce, I suppose it will be said that they have merely been 'blurted forth’ at a dissenting meeting in some obscure town.”—At an annual meeting of the Ecclesiastical Knowledge Society, held in London, the Chairman cried out against the Church, amidst a burst of applause, “ Down! down ! down with the old hag !!!"

At a meeting of dissenters, held at Cottenham, one of them delivered himself as follows :—“ The church of England is the synagogue of Satan, and so far antiscriptural and antichristian, that it will one day or other be destroyed by the breath of God. The grossest corruption and bloodshed may be traced to the Establishment, which had been raised by the pride of man, and not by Scripture. I also object," continues he, “ to the church of England, because of the means used to support it : for in every ten years, the entire produce of the land for a year is eaten up by the black-footed locusts ; and the parties who principally consume this revenue are the bloated archbishops and bishops, the lazy deans and subdeans, and the useless canons and prebendaries. Again, it must be remembered, that every doctrine and prayer of the Church is prescribed by the State, and if the whole clergy throughout the kingdom were to be directed, on a certain Sunday, to fall down and worship an ass, they would be compelled to do it.” This is moderate ; but hear another of these pious and worthy dissenting orators : " I wish to God that I had this evening to preach the funeral sermon of that hoary har. lot Mother Church, which is a blast and nuisance upon the earth, both black, bloody, and useless; and I will say, Blessed be those hands that shall first hurl her to dark perdition among the fiends there, to be honouring, and to be honoured by the devil."

of the churches of Greece, Rome, Asia, and Africa, (whose reritable union is matter of scripture history,) during the lives of the Apostles, and ere the voice of revelation ceased-- they who break the unity of divine worship, by separating, without limitation as to numbers of discordant sects, and thereby divide Christ,”—these are liable to the charge of all the heterodoxy which may spring from their factious and ill-advised secessionthey are answerable for the consequences of their precedent and example ; and what those consequences are, the Bishop of Norwich may learn by recalling to mind Matt. xii. 25; 1 Cor. i. 10, 12, 13; 1 Cor. iii. 1, 3, 4; and Gal. v. 19, 21. With the specified object of furnishing an indubitable proof to the world of his Divine mission, Christ prayed to his heavenly Father for the unity of his disciples. Now, whoever breaks the union in Catholic society, so far nullifies that proof, and gives grounds of scoff and triumph to the infidel. In the words of St. Clement, " It causes to doubt.” We are perfectly ready to admit, that if the conscience of any dissenter be better informed than that of churchmen, his separation is not causeless; and whether it be so or not is a question to be remitted to an Omniscient tribunal. But, since we have ever abhorred the interference of opinion, fancy, inclination, and caprice, in a matter, where only sovereign evidence, paramount over all the vain delusion of fanaticism or superstition, should dictate ; and since that instructs us, that uniformity of worship is the law of Christ, we hold that nothing can justify or excuse a separation, unless the terms of communion be sinful-unless, in fact, there is no living in communion with the national Church, without joining in practices manifestly corrupt, and offending palpably against the light and conviction of a good conscience."

If the Bishop of Norwich can imagine that such is predicable of the Church, of which he is the appointed guardian and teacher; if he can reconcile such a supposition with the admonition “ duly to execute the office whereunto he is called to the honour and praise of God's holy name;" if he, notwithstanding his unwillingness to be made a bishop, has yet consented to govern in a church he deems corrupt—then is he justified in saying, “ If the heart of a man be full of love and peace, whatsoever be his outward act of division, he is not guilty of schism.” But, on the other hand, if, as we still hope, in the teeth of many extraordinary assertions, both in his sermon and tract, the Bishop of Norwich does consider the Established Anglican Church as essentially a branch of the Catholic Church, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail, we cannot withhold the expression of our dismay at such a novel doctrine having been heedlessly promulgated from the pulpit by a Prelate of the church of England, on the occasion of his installation. If, indeed, the Bishop of Norwich conceives the church of England (according to his apologetic citation from Bishop Taylor in limitation of schism) makes" unnecessary and inconvenient impositions ;" if he opines that a man cannot entertain communion" with her “ without sin," which is the hypothesis of his authority, and that the Church "makes it necessary for a Christian to separate,"—then unquestionably the language of our heresiarch Prelate is warranted : but, in that case, we cannot understand how he can reconcile it to his conscience (having found out" a more excellent way,") to preside over a church which he must deem, according to the terms of our supposition, schismatic and corrupt ?

For ourselves, holding the conviction that an episcopal form of government, an apostolic priesthood, and a scriptural rule of faith, are indispensable characteristics of every branch of the Holy Catholic Church, we cannot, as conscientious churchmen, believe that the score of sections into which Protestant dissent is split, have one and all left our communion only after the greatest caution—with trembling and hesitation, and in consequence of the most mature investigation. And as this is past all credibility, we necessarily are of opinion that, by their separation, they have needlessly occasioned feuds and divisions in an apostolic branch of the church of Christ-in short, are guilty of the sin of schism.

We esteem our prelates (for instance) as the successors of the Apostles. "Omnes Apostolorum successores sunt." * We conceive they act in the plenitude of the apostolic character, 'Ev tühinρωματι έν Αποστολικό χαρακτήρι.ή And, indeed, from the days of the Apostles to those of Calvin, there was not any one church in the whole christian world which was not Episcopal; but our modern dissenters dissolve the Church as a society, by pretending that there is no need of apostolic or Episcopal succession ; that the doctrine taught is all that ought to be considered, and that the government should go for nothing; as if the dispute between Aaron and Korah was not solely about church government; as if the Fathers of the Church made any distinction between sin in doctrine and in discipline ; knowing, as a matter of course, that, in the long run, they amounted to the same thing. We really think, that the great favour with which dissenters are treated in these conciliating days is most unkind and discouraging to the clergy, useless to the laity, injurious to the Establishment, and no way consistent with the word and government of God. Only let us contrast the conduct of our Protestant Established Church with the darkness and intolerance of the Roman Catholic before the Reformation on the one hand, and with the fierce bigotry and savage cruelty of the dissenters during the Usurpation on the other; and consider how little toleration could be expected in the event of any one of the present dissenting bodies becoming the dominant religion. “The Presbyterians," says Hume,“ insisted that the least of Christ's truths was superior to all political considerations, and maintained the eternal obligation imposed by the Covenant to extirpate heresy and schism."

* Jerome, Epis. ad Evagr.

+ St. Ignatius.

As respects the Popish Church, her intolerant spirit is matter of history; it is known to make the very life-blood of her constitution, although, to the surprise of every churchman in the land, a contrary opinion has received countenance in a quarter where, of all others, it was least expected. But, indeed, it was for yielding the whole question at issue, by designating that church “ the Catholic Church.” * It was for his propitiation of the Irish priests,-his encomiums of the “ Catholic schools,” to be supported by the confiscated tithes,-his reprobation of " the Protestant Church of Ireland, as having far too abundantly partaken of a political and mercenary, rather than a religious character,--the reward of those valuing the flock more for its fleece than its soul's health.” † It was for disseminating abstract common places and dangerous untruths about “conciliation," “ redeeming our characters,"_" centuries of misrule,"_" the Reformation forced at the point of the bayonet,”—Transubstantiation being a more harmless error than the virulent spirit with which the Romish Church is assailed." It was for backing our Whig-Radical government in the scheme of raising all sects to equal political importance on the ruin of the Establishment,though the dismemberment of the Empire be the issue,—and for varnishing the conspiracy with such trashy generalities as we have just quoted, that the see of Norwich was conferred on the reverend author of “ Religion and Education in Ireland." In page 10 we read, “How often do we hear it positively asserted that the lives of Protestants are in jeopardy? I doubted the fact before, but am certain now that nothing can be more false.” How warped must be the headpiece of the writer of this sentence, we need not stop to remark. We only trust the Right Rev. Prelate will have read the heart-rending details of the late lingering tortures unto death in the county of Sligo. “ Lives in jeopardy!” Why, my Lord, they are killing the entire body of beneficed clergymen by inches and starvation. Could you travel through the country in the year 1836, and have no eyes nor ears but for the declaration of the “respected Catholic bishop, Dr. Murray,”—no praise but for “the mildness and benevolence of those by whom education is conducted, their zeal in season and out of season,” and have only to regret, that the Protestant religion can boast of no communities so exclusively devoted to God's service ?" This is all the Bishop has to regret at the

* Ireland, pp. 17, 20, 25.

+ Ibid. p. 35.

Ibid. p. 30.

[ocr errors]

very time that the clergy of the Protestant Church were enduring every species of invective and misrepresentation, were subjected to the most harassing legal opposition, and to outrage and intimidation of the most horrible kind. He lavishes his sensibility upon the “Catholic population," whilst the harassed spirits, ruined fortunes, disappointed hopes of a most meritorious body of men--the daily sacrifice of the broken heart-elicit not a passing ejaculation. Now, as we are not made to sympathize at once with the oppressors and the oppressed, we cannot understand how our reverend traveller, with nothing but douce humanité in his mouth, should confine all his “regrets" to the “ persecution and violence to which the Catholics of Ireland, who are attached to their religion by the pardonable ties of early association, are subjected.

This is "conciliation " and justice to Ireland, in the true Whig-Radical definition of the terms; but these distorted regards were welcome to those who had the distribution of church patronage, and verily the Rev. E. Stanley hath his reward.

If, notwithstanding all that he has written (we believe from conscientious conviction), the Bishop of Norwich, now that he has gained his ends, should be of opinion (and he cannot think otherwise) that the Established Church, in her forms and discipline, is best calculated for the religious instruction and moral culture of the people,-if, upon more mature consideration, he should allow, that, under the mild sway of her authority, more happiness and toleration have been enjoyed than under that of any other ;--if he would but correct his “liberal " fancies, which, flowing from the well-spring of Episcopacy, startle sober-minded men, and would recollect, that when the sects had the ascendancy, there was no peace and no toleration, he will forbear for the future to contribute to the destruction of the Establishment, by harping upon her errors. Were he more enlightened, he would not point out, to the sneers of dissenters, whose zeal for Christianity hardly allays their hatred to the Church, the beam that is in her eye." † He would not play the part of Ham, but silently, and with averted face, have laid his robes upon the destitution of a parent. What have the national clergy done, that they should be contemned? What the High Church," that she should be “checked like a bondman; all her faults observed,"_"set in a note-book, learned and conned by rote," “to cast into her teeth;" while, in the same breath, the dissenters of every varied creed, from the captious cold-hearted Socinian, that rejects the Atonement, down to the lowest driveller in theology, that preaches from a tub, are favoured and hallooed on to her subversion? If the clergy be really unsound in doctrine, the

* Ireland, p. 35.

† Ibid. p. 14.

« ForrigeFortsett »