Imágenes de páginas

animating principle of the Anglican reformation was "ancient custom," and where Protestantism has put forth claims to originality and uniqueness, it will be found, by diligent inquiry, that exact parallels exist in long since forgotten theories put forth in the early centuries. My authorities are given either in the context or in foot-notes throughout the book. I desire to acknowledge my obligations to the author of an article in the Church Quarterly Review of January, 1879; to Judge Homersham Cox's essay, "Is the Church of England Protestant?", to Rev. F. C. Ewer's "Catholicity and Protestantism," and the Church Historical Society's publications.


March, 1899.


THE word Protestant, since the year 1529, has been a thing to conjure with. It was first used as a term of contempt, but as time went on it lost its original pungency, and Dissenters gradually adopted it to express resentment to the Church of Rome. It never found its way, however, into any doctrine of the Church of England, and its introduction into the American Church, can only be accounted for (which will hereafter appear) on the probable theory of promoting unity in a divided Christendom. The proposal then to strike out the title "Protestant Episcopal," which is the official designation of the Church, has created no little controversy between promoters and obstructionists to the well-being of the Church. That the Church has tenaciously clung to Episcopacy through all the periods of her troubled history no one can doubt, but that Protestant is part of her ancient heritage, we are persuaded, after examination, all will emphatically resent. The present inquiry will be an attempt to show what Protestant means, and to trace it briefly through the various phases of Continental and Anglican history, to prove that the Church and Protestantism have never had

anything in common, and therefore the introduction of the term into the Church, in 1780, must have been suggested by personal or political motives. We have heard it advocated that Protestant means reformed, and that the Church of England, from which we derived our ministry, is Protestant, according to the order and discipline of the primitive Church. If Protestantism had the support of antiquity, it would have been a veritable triumph long ago, but the theory which takes its stand upon the infallibility of private judgment is doomed to failure, because it has no warrant in Scripture canon, which says: "Thus saith the Lord." Protestantism, in its essence, is democratic, which maintains that the ultimate source of authority is vested in the people, every man being a law unto himself, to preach the Word, and administer the Sacraments, which insinuatingly undermines the priesthood of Christ, and which eventually means the total destruction of Christianity. The word Protestant has been associated with anarchy, and various forms of error, from the beginning, and, in later years, it has been claimed as the peculiar heritage of the propagandists of free thought. The word, in a purely literary sense, is negative, and as a title to a corporate body, professing veneration for Catholic principles and Apostolic practice, stands for an idea that it cannot possibly represent.

Back of the whole question lies the historic argu

ment, and it is worse than useless to attempt to obliterate, or even try to silence, the history of the past, by discrediting and discouraging all argument in favor of historical continuity; as the love of study and research are gradually awakening the thinking masses to a fuller realization of the fact, that a church without antecedents is a church without authority, and hence it follows that the society which can trace its lineage back to the origin of all ministry, can preeminently claim to speak with Divine authority as the sine qua non of orthodox Christianity. The name Protestant was introduced into the American Church, which was formerly the "Church of England in the Colonies," in 1780, without any discussion or legislation whatever, and now for the sake of truth, it would seem most reasonable to fall back upon the title "The Church" of the country, for which we have both Scripture, and historic precedent. The present title is not only cumbersome, but misleading, and we have no just cause, as honest defenders of Divine truth, to label our doctrines with the brand of error. If some of our quotations which are immediately to follow seem to be superfluous, it is because we wish to be fair in presenting the whole case, in order to show that Protestant, in name and thing, has never had more than a tacit acceptance, and that the protesters at Spires never thought of basing their insubordinate action on any precedent whatever.

« AnteriorContinuar »