Imágenes de páginas

and asylum for the truth of God, against the waning efforts of Papal superstition, and the rising flood of the infidelity of the last days. But now that this great conflict is approaching to its final crisis, our Church must lay aside its attitude of mere defence, and exhibit the pure truth of the gospel to the world, in its double character of external diffusiveness and the internal union of Christian love. We cannot, we may not any longer stand aloof from the other members of Christ's family ; but there are two opposite grounds on which we


seek for union, and these it is now our business very briefly to compare.

The first method of re-union is that which is commended in the two pamphlets before us, and which forms the secret main-spring of the Tractarian school. It is based on two fundamental maxims, which (as lucus a non lucendo) they are pleased to term “Catholic principles.” The first is the absolute necessity to the very being of a church, of a threefold order in a visible priesthood, derived by an unbroken episcopal succession from the Apostles. The second is, the duty of entirely renouncing the exercise of private judgment, and of submitting, with implicit deference, to the decrees of general councils. In these two maxims, which practically replace, in their system, the two tables of the law, they place the very essence of the Christian Church. The Church of Rome therefore, the Eastern or Greek, the Anglican and the Anglo-American, are true churches, have the entail of the covenant, and their re-union is to be sought by all practicable means. All other communions are not churches, but “Protestant persuasions," groups of heretics or schismatics, having no ecclesiastical character, and which are left to the uncovenanted mercies of God. Their members, indeed, may, on confession, be received into the Church by the sacrament of

penance; but the communities themselves are de facto excommunicated. To seek direct intercourse with them would therefore involve the forfeiture of our own Catholicity, would degrade us to their level, and would thus betray that awful privilege of “making the body and blood of Christ,” which is committed to our own priesthood, in common with the Greek and Romish priests, and to these alone.

Such is the Catholic' theory of reunion, which Mr. Hope with calmness, and Mr. Palmer, with bitterness and passion, press upon their readers. We know not how to express our sense of the enormous falsehood it involves, or of the awful peril of that course which is thus recommended for our adoption at the present time. First of all, the full testimony of scripture to the true nature and essential elements of the Christian Church, is cast away, trodden under foot, and despised. In its room there is put forward a human

definition, without one shadow of warrant from God's word; a definition fraught with all the worst elements of spiritual blindness, heartless bigotry, and priestly ambition. We ask for the bread of sound doctrine, and they give us the stone of lifeless forms; we seek for the sustenance of spiritual worship, and they offer us the serpent-sophistries, which palliate and excuse the gross idolatry of Rome. Next, that search for truth which made the Bereans noble in God's sight, that choice which Moses, Joshua, and St. Paul, with one voice enjoin and command, is openly proscribed as the very essence of heresy, in defiance of the clearest declarations of the Spirit of God. The laity, bound hand and foot, are given over as helpless slaves to the guidance of the priesthood, and these again, in the same blind subjection, to their superiors; till, by degrees, all the tightening links of unity gather around the seven-hilled seat of the Babylonian harlot, and the visible Church, that noble ordinance for the salvation and spiritual life of ransomed sinners, is turned into one vast engine of spiritual delusion, by which the adversary may lead millions of souls blindfold to their eternal ruin. That we do not exaggerate the extent to which these maxims are carried, the two following extracts from Mr. Palmer's tract may alone be sufficient to prove. The first is quoted by him, with full approbation, from the council of Bethlehem; the other is his own deliberate statement :

“ Therefore we declare that this hath ever been the doctrine of the Eastern Church;-that the episcopal dignity is so necessary in the Church, that without a Bishop there cannot exist any Church, nor any Christian man, no not so much as in name. For he, as successor of the apostles, having received the grace given to the apostle' himself of the Lord to bind and to loose by imposition of hands and invocation of the Holy Ghost, by continuous succession from one to another, is a living image of God upon earth, and by the fullest communication of the virtue of that Spirit who works in all ordinances, is the source and fountain as it were of all those mysteries of the Catholic Church, through which we attain salvation. And we hold the necessity of a Bishop to be as great in the Church, as the breath of life is in a man, or as the sun in the system of creation. Whence also some have elegantly said in praise of the episcopal dignity, that as God himself is in the heavenly Church of the firstborn, and as the sun in the world, so is every. Bishop in the diocesan or particular Church, inasmuch as it is through him that the flock is lightened, and warmed, and made into a temple of God.”——(pp. 26, 27.)

With the same approbation, and perhaps as a precedent for his own anathemas against the heads of our Church, he quotes the following passage :

B. (From the service used in the Eastern Catholic Church on the first Sunday in Lent, commonly called Orthodox Sunday) :

""To those who refuse the councils of the holy Fathers, and their traditions, which be agreeable to the divine revelation, and are piously observed by the orthodox Catholic Church, be anathema thrice !'” *". (From the “Form” (in use in the Eastern Church) “ for the reception of such as come to the orthodox faith, not having ever departed from it personally before, but having been bred up in heresy; who have received true baptism, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, but reject the other holy mysteries and customs of the Church, and hold other opinions contrary to the Church of the orthodox"):

". Question. Dost thou desire to abjure the adulterous doctrine of the Papists, the Lutherans, or the Calvinists (as the case may be), and all their errors ? " Answer. I desire to do so.

Question. Dost thou desire to be, and to live, in the unity of the orthodox Catholic faith?

Answer. I desire it.''-(p. 30.) But the following, as it comes direct from the pen of a deacon in the English Church, is still more remarkable :

“ The Prussian State Gazette , in the document given at length above, speaks of the German as 'the mother of all the Evangelical, (i. e. Protestant, Lutheran, or Lutherano-Calvinistie) Confessions' or Churches,' and of our English Church as having had its origin' together with theirs in the sixteenth century; we cannot therefore make any better beginning in order to shew that the English Convocation, the nonjuring Bishops, and the Eastern Catholic Church, rightly agreed in rejecting the idea of any essential unity of Protestantism as of one Church or religion with themselves, than by pointing out the radical heresy which is involved in the very first word of the celebrated Confession of Augsbourg.

After the Preface to the Confession of Augsbourg, the last word of which is · Protestamur,' apparently promising in a Catholic spirit submission to a lawful Council of the Latin Bishops, follow the eighteen Articles themselves, the first words of which are ' Ecclesiæ apud nos magno consensu docent,' when yet the framers, subscribers, presenters, and favourers of that Apology, and in one word, the whole party, were only a mixed multitude, neither Churches, ` Ecclesiæ,' nor possessed of any authority to teach, 'docere.'

“ Heresy (alpeous) 'means literally. 'a choosing,'' i. e. a choosing by the individual or by the part of something ‘particular, inconsistent with the essential truth which is in Him who is Truth, and with the Catholicism or Unity of His whole Church-one and indivisible, which embodies and expresses it in the world. The Lutherans and the Calvinists, and all the sects which have been derived from them, both among ourselves and elsewhere, maintain publicly as the foundation of their ‘Reformation' or ' Protestantism,' of their • Protestant or Reformed Religion,' or ' Evangelical Christianity,' not so much any particular or accidental heresy, (though they have several) as Heresy itself made into a principle; not so much any particular false doctrine which implies an act of aipeous in themselves or in their ancestors, as the principle of alpeous itself; as if a man, besides his particular moral delinquencies, should base his moral action on the avowed principle that it was right to follow particular appetite in despite of the general or Catholic law and authority of conscience and reason : and the question which is sometimes asked, whether the position, that the 'right' of alpeois, or of following particular opinion concerning the interpretation of Holy Scripture, without respect to the teaching and interpreting authority of the Apostolical Episcopate--the question, I say, whether the position that this pretended 'right' of heresy is the fundamental principle of the true religion, or of the best form of it, be itself a heresy, seems to be much the same thing as if any one should doubt whether the principle that the right of breaking the commandments is the foundation of morality, be itself a breach of them.

“ That there is such a thing as 'the principle of the Protestant religion,' * the fundamental principle of our common Protestantism, of 'The Evangelical Church,' of • The Reformed Church,' &c. is proved by the very existence of these phrases ; by the fact of their being perfectly current and intelligible in the world at large; and by the agreement of the whole world to class Protestantism and Protestants as a religion and Church together, and apart from all others. That this principle is heretical is proved by its novelty ; by the perception which common sense has that it is opposed more or less to the Church principle,' or 'the principle of Catholicism;' by its practical hostility, not only to the Roman, but to all, even to the heretical Churches of the old foundation; and by its being condemned not only by the Roman, but by all others."'--(pp. 33–35.)

It would be mere waste of time to employ a lengthened course of argument in refuting such pure and unmitigated folly. The essence of heresy, it seems, consists in choosing for ourselves, whether the choice be good or evil, light or darkness, Christ or Belial. The bare assertion of the duty of private judgment is alone sufficient to bring us under the triple anathema of Mr. Palmer. What then, we ask, is his whole pamphlet, when tried by this test, but one string of heresies? What right has Mr. Palmer to choose the synod of Bethlehem for his authority, rather than the confession of Augsburg ? What an heretical act of private judgment it is, to place the presbyters of the lower house of convocation above the living Primate and Bishops of our Church; who, by his own account, are “ as the breath of life in a man, or the sun in the creation,” while the presbyters, to whom he appeals, compared with them, can only be as petty and twinkling stars !

What right has he further to choose Laud and King Charles for his patterns of holy martyrs, and to defame the memory of the reformers, and of that noble army who sealed the faith with their blood in the Marian persecution ? Certainly the writer who exercises his private judgment so freely, while in the same breath he condemns such exercise as the essence of heresy, must be himself among the worst of heretics by the Apostle's rule, because he sins against his own conviction, and is self-condemned. If he would escape from his own anathema, he must shut himself in his cell, and instead of pestering the Church with such follies, and defaming his own superiors, must content himself, in modest retirement, with muttering over the parrot-like profession of faith of the Romish peasant.

There is, however, another and a happier course, which we trust that God will dispose the hearts of our rulers to pursue. It is that of growing union with all the faithful Churches of Christ, which hold fast the orthodox faith, and the great doctrines of the gospel, whatever may be their secondary defects in point of form and outward discipline. The principles of such union will flow simply from the nature of the Church, as set before us in God's holy word. First, since we are all grafted on the stock of Israel, the undeserving objects of that rich bounty of God, of which the Jews were once partakers, the first step to a solid reunion is to remember the days of our youth, to lay aside our Gentile high-mindedness, and humbly and heartily to cooperate in forwarding God's designs of mercy to his ancient people. The sin which filled up their iniquity, was their forbidding to preach to the Gentiles. And any church, however apostolic in form and origin, will draw on itself an inevitable curse, which shall dare to obstruct the recovery of Israel to the faith of Christ, to damp the ardour of Christians in this holy cause, or to perplex and hinder the efforts of those who profess the pure faith of the gospel to unite, over the tomb of the risen Saviour, in this work of mercy. Zeal for episcopacy, when it produces such effects as these, becomes more senseless than the zeal of the Pharisees for the law, because it has still less of plausible excuse in the words of scripture, and is nothing else than a fearful abomination in the sight of God.

Next, since God has of his singular goodness, combined in our Church the three elements of Catholic orthodoxy, Protestant fidelity, and Primitive and Apostolic order, our efforts for re-union must have respect to all of these, in their due subordination. Wherever the work of God's holy Spirit is to be seen, there we must recognize and hail his presence, and offer from the heart the prayer of the Apostle—“Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” But while this expansive law of Christian love is in full exercise, its visible application in outward Church communion, must be controlled and guided by the law of Christian wisdom. Wherever there is a communion orthodox in its creed on the great doctrines of the faith, and distinct in its protest against the predicted apostasy of Rome, without the guilt of schismatical separation from a co-existing orthodox and soundly Protestant Church,—there we ought to hold out gladly the right hand of fellowship, and wherever it can be done without trenching on essential elements of our own discipline, exhibit to them the visible tokens of Christian love and brotherly communion. Thus shall we be most likely to attract them into the adoption of a primitive order; and without lording it over their faith, to be helpers of their joy. We may thus, by the blessing of God, lead them to desire for themselves those neglected institutions, which, though not essential to the being, are most desirable for the well-being of the Church.

But while our fullest union must be reserved for those churches, in which the main requisites are found, of pure worship and sound doctrine, we must not utterly pass by those other ancient communions, which amid grievous corruptions and superstitions, are still guiltless of the all-grasping usurpation of the Romish Church. With the seat and centre of the grand apostasy, we ought to have no fellowship, no, not for an hour ; our sole aim must be to bring

« AnteriorContinuar »