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sects;" their ends are distraction, their pretence and colour reformation. They have separated from the christian community, and, as it were, have excommunicated themselves upon divers grounds. They are aŭtokarákpito—not judged by us, but by their own doings. As their motives are, to all intents and purposes, contradictory, it is obvious that they cannot all be right; and it is the object of the excellent little work, the title to which we have prefixed to our present paper, to demonstrate that by that very separation they act in opposition to Scripture; and to call upon dissenters, in consistency with their profession, to return to the bosom of mother church, and unite with her ministry and members. This work is replete with good sense ; and the occasional energy of the author's language is strongly significant of his abhorrence of the principles of dissent. He manages his general argument, both from Scripture, reason, and the apostolic Fathers, with force, simplicity, and brevity; but is not always so perspicuous as might be wished. The conception is good, and moreover executed in a
any Christian, of discernment to apprehend the train of thinking, cannot fail to approve.
That this labour of love has at all events been composed in a candid spirit, is manifest from the following somewhat bizarre declaration in the introduction,
“I am not blind to the imperfections of the Church to which I belong, nor averse to her improvement. I venture to believe that I do not differ from a vast majority of her truest sons in my opinion, that her creeds, and forms, and discipline may, with somewhat of plausibility, appear to some minds too open to parliamentary influence.”
It may be owing to the absence of perspicuity; but we confess we cannot divine what the reverend author would have us understand. We cannot recognise any just cause of complaint in respect to these matters. That reformation be required, we are painfully conscious; but it is in ourselves we are the error. We no longer are endowed with that simplicity and fervency which characterised the apostolic times. We are degenerate, and have reason to exhort with St. Gregory, 'OTTEp nuev yevóueda—but contrariwise, as respects the alteration threatened by Mr. Kemp, we are more inclined to exclaim-uévWjev ŐTTEP εσμέν. .
He then proceeds, “Neither do I shrink from the confession that her Prayer-book is not a work of absolute perfection. I am not unconscious of dissension among her ministers, nor am I insensible of evil in her discipline. I believe that alteration might be effected in various departments of the Church ;--not merely some to accommodate scrupulous consciences, but others to advance the cause of truth; and I frankly ayow my wish that such reforms were attempted.'
If we once begin to meddle with the liturgy and service of the Church, out of regard to the supposed scruples of ignorant prejudices or bigoted dissenters, we would be glad if Mr. Kemp would tell us where we are to stop. Have we not innumerable divisions and subdivisions of fanaticism and folly, of vice and unbelief? and may we not be told by the advocates of each that some little modification of a rite or ceremony would remove their scruples and promote their welfare? Why, the very Socinians would be enabled to join regularly in the established worship, and be saved the expense of supporting teachers of their own, were the clergyman ONLY authorized to omit all the collects and all the creeds, the litanies and the graces, the prayers and the praises of the Church. What can the author of the Refutation have been thinking about? In the unadvised spirit that dictated the passage we have cited, the legislature might go through every page of the ritual, and alter and add, omit or modify, according to the infinite caprice of mankind. The very Jews, Turks, infidels, and heretics, might come to feel an equal delight in the dogmata, and partake in common in the worship of such a truly catholic communion! If parliament were to consent to alter the Prayer-book for one scruple, upon the same principle it must heed every scruple; and it is evident, a measure concocted under such circumstances, instead of being of a liberal character, would turn out an act of maimed and imperfect justice, unworthy of the countenance of a christian communitya reflection upon the equity of parliament, upsetting ancient landmarks, irritating ancient prejudices, shocking holy feeling, mixing profane and sacred things in one undistinguishable mass; all for the purpose of giving, not relief to scruples of conscience, but superiority of strength to enable our enemies to overturn our protestant Establishment.
Mr. Kemp immediately after observes, that the rulers of our Church are fully competent to the execution of the task. The rulers may be intellectually and morally competent, but they certainly are not legally so. Nay, we are not sure whether our prelates, -after having proposed to violate the corporate and special endowment of the minor canons of St. Paul's, and to appropriate those revenues, which, ever since the reign of Richard the Second, have belonged to those reverend subalterns,we must say we entertain strong doubts whether the mitred rulers of our Establishment, however amiable and to be respected, would be the fittest individuals to whom we should entrust a reform of the church of England. At all events, it is beside the question; for, as we before observed, they are legally incompetent. They have no more power to make alteration, agreeably to the recommendation of Mr. Kemp, than the three estates of the realm, would have to stir in the matter without the concurrence of a still higher authority—an authority, which, in -conformity with the laws of England, ought to take the initiative in every case of ecclesiastical reformation. The sad consequences which have resulted from not having adhered to this sound constitutional practice, in certain late mischievous meddlings with ecclesiastical affairs, are around and about us—it is no vague theoretical hypothesis, but a fact of practical and melancholy experience, forcing itself on the perception of the most obtuse individual in the British dominions. It is the idea which is the most painfully objective in the reflections of every lover of his country. We have been legislating for the Church without that warrant which is required to ratify our acts; and we have only to turn our attention to the anomalous situation of the sister kingdom, to make us tremble at our presumption.
Whether measures trenching upon the rights and immunities of the Church, and as we affirm illegally concocted, be binding upon the nation at large, we entertain strong doubts; but it is evident to us, at least, that they need have no stringent influence upon the Church itself, for whose reformation or regulation they were specially passed. We hold that the Church is legally exonerated from all obedience to acts of parliament bearing upon her interests, which have not received the preliminary sanction of the ecclesiastical estate. A fatal blow has been inflicted on the Establishment—we were going to say irremediable, but we trust in God otherwise. We believe indeed that she is only stunned, not inevitably destroyed. But a dreadful precedent of innovation hath been tacitly acknowledged. She who was most interested in every reform, whether of her external relations or internal constitution—who was, of course, more intimately aware of her deficiencies, her errors, and her wants, than any lay body whatsoever-she, forsooth, was to have, and had, no voice in a matter which affected her rights; which, mainly devised by her open enemies, aims as it were at her existence; which concerns the religious weal of the entire community, not merely for the present generation, but for unborn ages ;-she was passed by, as if the acts relating to the ecclesiastical economy were of no higher concern than the regulation of a railroad or the repeal of an obnoxious impost; and as if she had not a recognised constitutional voice in the legislature, represented by the convocation summoned by the king as temporal head of the Church. This first estate of the realm—(for, according to the usages of our wise and pious ancestors, no enactment which bore upon the interests of the Church could be valid without having been introduced to the notice of the legislature by the convocation)—this first estate represents the whole ecclesiastical body, bishops, dignitaries, and the inferior clergy. Therefore is it that we are of opinion that Mr. Kemp is wholly unwarranted in recommending to the episcopal bench the task of making divers alterations in various departments of the Church. If such reform be required, the venerable prelates are, as we have said, not competent to effect them. They would be stepping out of their province, and acting without lawful authority. Mr. Kemp should understand that the bishops have no more power of themselves to set about modernizing the creeds, and forms, and discipline of the mother church, than have the presbytery. How those prelates, who are members of the present Church Commission, can reconcile their independent authority with their anterior and higher duties, as members of the Convocation, we are at a loss to conceive. We see at this day the consequences of the practical suppression of that estate of the realm; and are afforded another proof that no great principle was ever invaded or trampled on, that did not sooner or later avenge itself on the country, and even on the governing classes themselves, by the consequences of the precedent. We, however, dismiss for the present this branch of our argument, which Mr. Kemp's impolitic recommendation naturally suggested. It is probable, however, that we shall return to the subject on a future occasion.
In the analysis which we propose giving of “ The Refutation of Nonconformity,". we shall depart from the arrangement of the reverend author, though perhaps he could have hit upon none more lucid and logical than that which he has adopted. We are pleased to find from the publication of several works, all substantiating the fact, or bearing upon it, that the system of the separatists is daily subjected to a scrutiny, from which it was formerly exempt; and, unquestionably, opinions are spreading, which imperceptibly diminish the schismatic influence over the minds of the more thoughtful of that portion of the community, who have withdrawn from the pale of the Church. A free and full examination is always in the long run favourable to truth, but fatal to error. Those articles of nonconformity, which a short while since were received with an unhesitating assent, in subservience to the authority of the teachers, begin to excite the suspicion of the voluntaries themselves. Many, laying aside the gall and bitterness wherein their minds had previously overabounded, have proceeded to re-examine into the matter, and to search the truth. And what is it they must invariably discover? Instead of the meeting-houses and chapels presenting the aspect of holy sanctuaries, where tidings are proclaimed which tend to reclaim men from vice, to form or to strengthen habits of virtue, or to elevate the mind to a tone of meekness, simplicity, and loving-kindness, dissent only occupies its votaries in the violent harangues of disaffection, which operate with fatal influence in inflaming the passions and hardening the heart. How wicked soever the line of conduct which they have adopted, or how inconsistent with the charitable doctrines of our Saviour the rancour which they inculcate, the great body of the dissenters observe the injunctions of their pastor with scrupulous exactness.
In our reasonings concerning motives and practices, which differ so widely from all our preconceived ideas of what is becoming the christian character, we are extremely liable to err. Having been instructed ourselves in the principles of a Church, whose Articles, and discipline, and decent ordinances, are worthy in every respect of that divine wisdom by which they were dictated, we are apt to feel wonder at the obliquity of dissenters in conforming to opinions which appear to us so directly repugnant to the word of God; nay, at times, can hardly help suspecting that tenets so fanatical and disloyal do not really obtain credit with them. We, however, fear that we reckon without our host. A little further thought may satisfy us, that neither our wonder nor our suspicions are well founded. The justice of their hostility to the Establishment will hardly be called in question under the torturing paroxysm of dissent; and no feeling, however inimical to religion, which it enjoins, appears improper to them. To aspire after other notions than are sedulously inculcated in their meeting-houses, and insisted on in their proper journals and publications, would be deemed by the majority of the dissenting body not only presumption, but weakness. This supineness, however, with very many, may be traced to a most lamentable_ignorance of the question at issue between themselves and the Establishment-of the foundation of their controversy and its bearings on religion and duty. Many of these pastors and masters are, carnally speaking, highly gifted men; and they have often a wonderful ascendant over their congregation, and every consideration that can influence the human mind, setting aside the dictation of an enlightened conscience; their honour, pecuniary interest, the dignity and power of their order—every mere worldly inducement inclines them to support those tenets, and to maintain those opinions, however irreconcilable to Scripture, with which the preservation of this ascendant is so intimately connected. Their language and conduct prove that they are infinitely more zealous to keep their flock in the dark as to the real bearings of the question, and to inflame their minds against the Establishment, than for any other object affecting the interests of man, whether as respects this world or the next. Thus it has come about, that no christian martyr ever contended for the truth, that no soldier of the church militant ever sought to scale heaven with more fierce energy, than these reverend gentlemen declaim against their imaginary grievances. They make the roof of their meeting-houses ring with their denunciations and complaints; and their congregations, out of that vague sympathy which the very cadence of exasperating and lugubrious eloquence will excite with the uninitiated, are fain to take for granted that the iron is entering into their soul; though the motive of their appeals, week after week, is simply this-a dread of losing aught of their worldly