quarter we meet with it, commands our sympathy and approbation. In thus giving credit to our right reverend author for good intentions, we are bound to add, that, like those consciences his Lordship has taken under his Episcopal wing, his intentions would seem to be excessively refined, and exclusively political, and to sadly require to be enlightened. That we are not singular in our opinion is evident, from what occurred at the dinner with his clergy after his Lordship’s inaugural address for the benefit of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. This discourse was delivered before three hundred of the assembled clergy in the cathedral of the diocese, of which he has become the chief pastor,-and, after a most attentive perusal, we are bound to deliver our opinion, that, to say the least, it was very unsuitable to the occasion. It indicated the beginning of a new state of things, whereby dissent, already sufficiently prevalent in Norwich, should henceforth become rampant ; should bask beneath the genial smiles of authority, and be rooted in the delusion by Episcopal countenance ; that schism signifies simply uncharitableness; and that the most discordant sections of the church of Christ hold the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace just as much as the Apostolic churches, who were under the same government, and " of one mind.. When his Lordship declared, that “ by many pious and well-intentioned persons it has been considered that no education ought to be encouraged, unless religion is absolutely identified, and that with such I presume to differ, "---when he further added, “I hail as a national blessing every attempt towards a mental advancement of the great body of the people, in whatsoever shape, in whatsoever form, in whatsoever aspect it presents itself,"—could the clergy, could any christian auditory, feel otherwise than shocked that such a notification should issue, ex cathedrâ, from the lips of a christian Protestant Prelate ? Could the words have been uttered under an enlightened sense of the obligation of his eminent station of the awful majesty of the Being before whom he spake? What! would the Bishop of Norwich not object to the formof the French Encyclopædia ? Would not absolute ignorance be preferable to the writings of La Mettrie and D'Argens in favour of atheism, and their lectures in praise of immorality? In the days of D'Alembert, Buffon, Condillac, Diderot, Duclos, Helvetius, and Rousseau, there was no branch of " mental advancement” without its representative, and its teacher, and its disciples; and no part of literary profligacy left unexplored. And what did it all end in? Why, the

progress of infidelity was most tremendous ; whilst the sophistry which it employed, like the Whig-Radical plausibilities of the present day, revealed its insincerity. Atheism sought to conceal its deformity under the most specious illusion of benevolence. Materialism wept over the ills which it imputed to necessity;

and a soi-disant philanthropy—a miscalculating liberality--an unbounded toleration, and most unlimited concession and conciliation, became the fashion and the law. We again ask, in what did it end? Why, in the perversion of knowledge, which is exclusive of religion; and the consequent abuse of that power, which, whether for good or evil, knowledge implies. The mental illumination of France, being unsanctified by righteousness, all the knowledge and talents of her Encyclopædists, economists, savans, literati, proved vain and worthless; and the voice of her distress was as inaudible to heaven, as that of one groaning under a nightmare. “ Our Fathers have declared unto us” the “ shape,the “form," and the “ aspect," in which the attempt towards the mental advancement" of France presented itself

, and we all know the catastrophe. To return, when, on the imposing occasion we have alluded to, the Bishop of Norwich proceeded to signify his opinion, that “no man should think his neighbour a schismatic, because he is not in outward conformity with their church;" when his Lordship affirmed," that he who separates only because he thinks it a painful duty, is not guilty of the sin of schism ;” and (" addressing," to quote his own words, “a vast congregation of all ranks and gradations, of all denominations too, if I mistake not,") could exhort “to purify our own sanctuary, so as to leave less ground for such internal schism," (in allusion to his previous accusation of churchmen “creating feuds, and scandals, and divisions in the church of Christ,"')" and separation." .. when such conciliatory language was ployed, could one of that electrified auditory misconstrue its meaning, its inuendos, or its overtures? In the one hand he proffered protection and countenance; in the other he held out the fasces of severity and rebuke. Whatever his own fold may apprehend, " dissenters of all denominations” doubtless anticipate, that, under the rule of Edward, Lord Bishop of Norwich, “ the crosier will be an easy sceptre.” But what churchman who was present, or what Romanist could imagine for an instant, that his Lordship knew any thing of his sacred profession; or that he was acquainted with any history, but that of these radical times ? Under such circumstances no vote of thanks could have been conscientiously given by the clergy to the Bishop; and they judged it best for the public, and infinitely more kind to the Bishop himself, and at the same time more becoming to their own character, to make no request that a sermon, mainly political, and obnoxious to so much objection on other accounts, should be printed. Is it not evident, if, at their instance, such a discourse had been given to the world, that their approval would have been implied ; that they must have been implicated in the opinions and doctrines it advocated? They, therefore, in our judgment, exercised a sound discretion by remaining silent. But we find, that Archdeacon Glover, in


his zeal for the political honour of his new superior, rose, and accused his brethren of an omission in their demonstration of respect and duty towards the new Bishop, in not having thanked him for his promised support of education free from religion ; and for declaring schism to be no schism in those who sincerely followed the dictates of their private judgment in matters of christian doctrine.

Now really, to our thinking, there could be hardly any more fruitful source of schism opened than the maintenance of these two principles,—of moral education without religion, and the unlimited exercise of private judgment in matters of christian doctrine. It were to let loose the flood-gates of heresy and schism with a vengeance. The Rev. Lord Bayning,-well knowing that the formularies of the Church were in accordance with Scripture, and that it was wrong to encourage the rejection of them on slight grounds, since it would be rending and tearing unnecessarily the body of Christ, which is the church of the living God,-immediately rose and said, “ Gentlemen, the omission of the request is intentional, and I avow it, for this reason; because I cannot be supposed to identify myself with, or to sanction opinions such as those contained in the sermon. We hold the Rev. Lord Bayning in high honour for having spoken out in this decided way; and we are satisfied, after diligent examination of the sermon, which has been since published at the request of the Mayor and Corporation, that his Lordship and his Rev. Brethren were fully justified in their conduct.

We cannot find any warrant in Scripture for the latitudinarian indifference and comprehensive catholicism of the Bishop of Norwich. The doctrine, that "all churches, sects, and parties are united under the designation of the Church of Christ,” goes, in its direct results, to the subversion of all ecclesiastical primitive authority. If that doctrine be correct, Christ ordained not only no form, but no substance of church government at all. We believe we recognise the line of demarcation in the writings of the Apostles, but the exposition of our Right Rev. Theologian, if followed out to its consequences, would erase every distinctive feature of the fold of Christ, which would be made to include all classes of the rational creation-Jew, Gentile, Christian, and Mahometan,-all who “ act according to the dictates of conscience" would be alike entitled to their footing on this tesselated pavement, without cement; this novel ark of diversified mosaic. Alas, for our Episcopal reformer! If his visions were feasible, his diocese would be common property-if he could only accomplish his scheme, he would be no longer a Bishop. But on so solemn a subject it behoves us to be serious, even to sadness.


agree with Salvian, that human nature is liable to err with an upright intention and pious design;* but it

* Salvian de Gubernat. Dei, lib. v.

would not argue excess of charity, but weak subserviency, were we to conceal our sentiments of the dangerous tendency of latitudinarian doctrines emanating from a dignitary of the Church on such an occasion. They derive an importance from his rank, and the sanctity of the place where they were delivered. read in page 11 of the sermon,

" When our Lord declared of the man who cast out devils in Christ's name, yet followed not with the Apostles, that he who was not against him was on his part; he told us clearly that there might be outward divisions of form which were compatible with the truest unity of Spirit.” But Christ did not bid his disciples receive this man as a brother, or acknowledge him as a fellow-Apostle. Forbid him not," is the utmost limit of favour which Christ's authorised ministers can be called upon to show to the unauthorised preacher of the gospel. Those who “cause division," should be "avoided,” in order, firstly, to make that premier pas, which is the origin of division, an unlikely occurrence; and, second to prevent the schism itself from spreading further. And, for the same reason, the people's moral right to expound the Scripture for themselves, and to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience, is qualified by that which is a matter of prior obligation—that they do not thereby rashly incur the consequences of divisions (Slyootagiai) by separating (Gal. v. 19, 21,) from that spiritual incorporation of believers, of which Jesus Christ is the corner-stone. He has appointed a perpetual ministerial succession in his church, with the view (inter alia) of instructing and guiding the laity into religious truth; and we do maintain, in the face of the Bishop of Norwich, that wherever any man, and body of men, have quitted the English national Episcopal branch of the church of Christ, (thereby causing division and subdivision, and setting afloat a sectarian spirit,) the abstract plea of its being done conscientiously furnishes no justification, and will not absolve them of the guilt of schism. that gathereth not with us, scattereth." And we further hold, that if the dictates of their conscience had been all the apology that Luther or Melancthon had to offer for violating the scripturally-denounced unity of the church of Rome, they would just as much have fallen under the anathema of St. Paul as Joanna Southcote herself; or there is no meaning in words-no truth in the Epistles of the Apostles. No, my Lord, it is not because we feel it conscientiously; it is not simply because we read it in the English Testament; but that we have brought our mental faculties, sharpened and instructed, to the aid of conscience, and the elucidation of Scripture,-because our private judgment is approved by the universal consent of the Church, that we venture to inform you, that when St. Paul “verily thought with himself that he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth,” his conscience was a mere ignis fatuus; and

" He

it is nothing else than this species of uninstructed conscience, which, at the bidding of a spurious private judgment, is the root of all the infidelity and dissent in England at the present day. Nothing, in our opinion, can justify a departure from the divine law of church communion. Separatists should be “ marked and “ avoided,” not petted, cheered, and encouraged, as if their breaking the discipline of the Church were not obnoxious to the charge of “schism,” because, forsooth, they continue to hold the faith. At all events, they overturn the institution of a perpetual ministry of the word, (Heb. xiii. 17; 1 Thess. v. 12; 1 Cor. xvi. 16; Matt. xxviii. 20,) by opposing the dogmata of that clerisy, which they find regularly appointed with the object of evangelizing the nation. “ It is not enough to boast of the Spirit," (says Luther indignantly,)“ neither will God have us believe those who make pretensions, and say, Believe my Spirit ; otherwise we should all stand on an equal footing, and no one would listen to another.” They who make all exercise of discipline impossible, and whose avowed object is to overturn the church of Christ*— they who rest upon their own crude inter

*“ It is with me, I confess, a matter of deep, serious, and religious conviction, that the Established Church is a great national evil ; that it is an obstacle to the progress of truth and godliness in the land ; that it destroys more souls than it saves ; and that therefore its end is most devoutly to be wished for by every lover of God and man. (Binney's Address on Laying the First Stone of the New King's Weigh House, 4th Edit. p. 53.) Again : “ The dissolution of the existing antichristian alliance between Church and State, is the object at which dissenters will aim, and aim at on serious, sacred, religious grounds, identifying it with the honour of God, the peace of his church, and the universal advantage of mankind. This, however much it may include, is that one thing which, IN THE COMING CONFLICT, will be sought by them."(Ib. p. 63.)

The Christian Advocate, a dissenting Journal, writes as follows :“ We may rest assured, that until this, or something like this, has been effected, we shall stand no chance with the established parson-ocracy. We must fight and conquer them in detail, before we shall overthrow them in the mass. A guerilla warfare must precede the storming of the citadel.”

From a book, entitled The Tombs of the Prophets, by Mr. R. M. Beverley (Preface): “A shilling pamphlet against five millions sterling, (annually received by the clergy for not preaching the gospel,) are

great odds.”

" What is said of us, the believers ? ' Blessed are the poor in spirit ; blessed are they that mourn; blessed are the mcek; blessed are ye when men shall speak all manner of evil against you falsely,' &c. If, then, the Church consists of persons who are not meek, who are not poor in spirit, who do not mourn, whom no one persecutes, &c., it is clear that such a church cannot be the body of Christ; but as it in NO. IV.-VOL. II.


« ForrigeFortsett »