« AnteriorContinuar »
of those few brethren, caught a sound like “the voice of many waters ;” the acclamations of praise to Christ from the converted millions of the Gentile world; and the overflowing joy of his heart poured itself forth in loud thanksgiving to God.
Very similar, and still more gladdening is the present situation of the Gentile Church. For as Rome has been the metropolis of the world in the days of the Church's pilgrimage, so is Jerusalem to be hereafter, in the time of the Church's exaltation and glory. All the promises of future blessing cluster, in rich profusion, around this Imperial city of God. There, whether in person or in spirit, the Son of David is to establish his kingdom upon earth, and from thence are to flow those living streams of salvation, which in ages to come will refresh all the nations of the earth. When the heavenly Zion shall descend from the presence of God, the glory which shall enlighten and bless all the families of mankind is to stream down upon our lower world through the lattices of the earthly Jerusalem. And now, after ages of delay, the Providence of God seems to have brought the Church almost within sight of her promised resting-place. The first streaks of returning day are seen in the eastern horizon; the signs that God is about to visit Jerusalem in
become every day more distinct and clear; and every enlightened Christian who reflects on the steps which have led to the recent measures of our ecclesiastical rulers, will see in them the plain tokens of something higher than mere human wisdom, and like the great Apostle, will again “thank God and take courage."
But this wonderful event, besides its deep interest as a signal of expectation and hope to the Church at large, has a peculiar importance as it affects ourselves, and that reformed national Church of which it is our privilege to be members. Eminent as our station has been in the witness and defence of the truth, our Church, as a body, has been, till of late, grievously wanting, both in the spirit of missionary zeal, and of christian fellowship and union with the other faithful members of the great household of Christ. But now this reproach has begun to be rolled away
The more official, but scanty labours of her elder societies, have received a great extension; the zealous efforts of her individual members, in the cause both of the Jews and of the heathen world, have obtained a full sanction from her rulers, and have thus raised her more than ever to the high standing of a Missionary Church; while the late appointment of Colonial Bishops has freed her, at least in a measure, from the heinous guilt of neglecting to care for her own spiritual household. And now God seems to be fulfilling to her the gracious promise:-“To
him that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance.” The recovery of her missionary character, and the tardy measure she has taken to perform the duties of a parent towards her own spiritual children, the colonies of our country, have been the steps which have led her onward to still fuller blessings. God has thus paved the way for bringing her into closer union with the sister Churches of Christ, and for honouring her as the special messenger of returning mercy to Israel, and the bearer of good tidings to Jerusalem. And as if to compel the most careless to see the finger of Providence in this event, an Israelite, who is at once a native of Prussia and a priest of our own Church, has been chosen to convey this message of love ; and New Zealand, the latest and most distant scene of the triumphs of the gospel, has, in the person of its first Bishop, pronounced over him the Apostolic salutation, and joined in sending him, with a Divine commission, to the birth-place of the Church of Christ.
But between Jerusalem and Babylon there can be no sincere and lasting peace. It is not surprising, therefore, that an event so joyous and hopeful to the spiritual mind, and so full of auguries of good to the beloved and chosen city, has filled the court of Rome with vexation and dismay. A lurking suspicion, like that of Haman's wife, seems to haunt the bosom of that unhappy and fallen Church. “If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but wilt surely fall before him.” Accordingly the papers inform us that they are busy at Rome with pasquinades against the new Bishop, and scoffs upon his Jewish descent, and the portentous name of the vessel which conveys him to Palestine. Meanwhile, those among ourselves who have been described by their own leader as “straggling in the direction of Rome," share in the same feelings of dislike; and display their vexation at this appointment by pamphlets, full of suspicion, and almost of menace against the heads of that Church to which they nominally belong.
We feel it our duty therefore, in such a crisis, to strengthen the hands of those whom God has honoured as His instruments in this noble work; and for this purpose, after explaining the character of the three pamphlets on our list, to recur to those first principles of christian duty, by which our Church ought to be guarded at the present time. Such an appeal to the word of God will show the hollowness of those pretences of Catholic order, by which her enemies would discourage her from going forward boldly towards the land of promise; and, making themselves her captains, would lead her back into the Egyptian darkness and bondage of the Church of Rome.
The first pamphlet is a statement, from authority, of the steps which led to the appointment of a Protestant and Anglican Bishop at Jerusalem, and the objects for which the bishopric has been founded. It is so valuable and important, that we think it best to present the whole to our readers :
“An act was passed in the last session of Parliament (5 Victoria, cap. 6), empowering the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, assisted by other Bishops, to consecrate British subjects, or the subjects or citizens of any foreign kingdom or state, to bé Bishops in any foreign country, and, within certain limits, to exercise spiritual jurisdiction over the ministers of British congregations of the united Church of England and Ireland, and over such other Protestant congregations as may be desirous of placing themselves under the authority of such Bishops.
“ The Archbishop of Canterbury, having first consulted the Bishops who attended the convocation in August last, has exercised the power so vested in him, by consecrating the Rev. Michael Solomon Alexander, a Bishop of the united Church of England and Ireland, to reside at Jerusalem, and to perform the duties hereinafter specified. The Bishops assisting at the consecration were those of London, Rochester, and New Zealand. The appointment of a Bishop for Jerusalem was proposed by his Majesty the King of Prussia, who made it the subject of a special mission to the Queen of Engtand, and of a particular communication to the Archbishop of Canterbury. In making this proposal, his Majesty had in view not only the great advantages to be derived from its adoption, with reference to the conversion of the Jews; but also the spiritual superintendence and care of such of his own subjects as might be disposed to take up their abode in Palestine, and to join themselves to the Church so formed at Jerusalem. There is reason to expect that a considerable number of German as well as English Christians will be attracted to the Holy Land by the influence of strong religious feelings.
“ In order to obviate the difficulty which might be occasioned by the want of an endowment for the bishopric, his Majesty undertook to make at once the munificent donation of fifteen thousand pounds towards that object, the annual interest of which, amounting to six hundred pounds, is to be paid yearly in advance, till the capital sum (together with that which is to be raised by subscription for the purpose of completing the Bishop's annual income of twelve hundred pounds), can be advantageously invested in land situate in Palestine.
“ The immediate objects for which this bishopric has been founded will appear from the following statement. Its ultimate results cannot be with certainty predicted; but we may reasonably hope that, under the divine blessing, it may lead the way to an essential unity of discipline, as well as of doctrine, between our own Church and the less perfectly constituted of the Protestant Churches of Europe, and that, too, not by the way of Rome; while it may be the means of establishing relations of amity between the united Church of England and Ireland and the ancient Churches of the East, strengthening them against the encroachments of the See of Rome, and preparing the way for their purification, in some cases from serious errors, in others from those imperfections which now materially impede their efficiency as witnesses and dispensers of gospel truth and grace. In the mean time, the spectacle of a Church, freed from those errors and imperfections, planted in the Holy City, and holding a pure faith in the unity of the Spirit and in the bond of peace, will naturally attract the notice of the Jewish nation throughout the world; and will centralize, as it were, the desultory efforts which are making for their conversion. It is surely impossible not to recognise the hand of Providence in the remarkable events which have lately happened in the East, opening to Christians, and especially to our own nation, (so signal an instrument in bringing those events to pass,) a door for the advancement of the Saviour's kingdom, and for the restoration of God's ancient people to their spiritual birthright.
"While the Church of Rome is continually, and at this very moment, labouring to pervert the members of the Eastern Churches, and to bring them under the dominion of the Pope, sparing no arts nor intrigues, hesitating at no misrepresentations, sowing dissension and disorder amongst an ill-informed people, and asserting that jurisdiction over them which the ancient Churches of the East have always strenuously resisted, the two great Protestant powers of Europe will have planted a Church in the midst of them, the Bishop of which is specially charged not to entrench upon the spiritual rights and liberties of those Churches; but to confine himself to the care of those over whom they cannot rightfully claim any jurisdiction; and to maintain with them a friendly intercourse of good offices; assisting them, so far as they may desire such assistance, in the work of Christian education; and presenting to their observation, but not forcing upon their acceptance, the pattern of a Church essentially scriptural in doctrine, and apostolical in discipline.
*** The Bishop of the United Church of England and Ireland at Jerusalem is to be nominated alternately by the Crowns of England and Prussia, the Archbishop having the absolute right of veto, with respect to those nominated by the Prussian Crown.
" The Bishop will be subject to the Archbishop of Canterbury as his Metropolitan, until the local circumstances of his bishopric shall be such as to make it expedient, in the opinion of the Bishops of that United Church, to establish some other relation.
"His spiritual jurisdiction will extend over the English clergy and congregations, and over those who may join his Church and place themselves under his Episcopal authority in Palestine, and, for the present, in the rest of Syria, in Chaldea, Egypt, and Abyssinia ; such jurisdiction being exercised, as nearly as may be, according to the laws, canons, and customs of the Church of England; the Bishop having power to frame, with the consent of the Metropolitan, particular rules and orders for the peculiar wants of his people. His chief missionary care will be directed to the conversion of the Jews, to their protection, and to their useful employment.
“He will establish and maintain, as far as in him lies, relations of Christian charity with other Churches represented at Jerusalem, and in particular with the orthodox Greek Church; taking special care to convince them, that the Church of England does not wish to disturb, or divide, or interfere with them; but that she is ready, in the spirit of Christian love, to render them such offices of friendship as they may be willing to receive.
" A College is to be established at Jerusalem, under the Bishop, whose Chaplain will be its first Principal. Its primary object will be, the education of Jewish converts : but the Bishop will be authorized to receive into it Druses and other Gentile converts ; and if the funds of the College should be sufficient, Oriental Christians may be admitted: but clerical members of the orthodox Greek Church will be received into the College, only with the express consent of their spiritual superiors, and for a subsidiary purpose. The religious instruction given in the College will be in strict conformity with the doctrines of the United Church of England and Ireland, and under the superintendence and direction of the Bishop.
“ Congregations, consisting of Protestants of the German tongue, residing within the limits of the Bishop's jurisdiction, and willing to submit to it, will be under the care of German clergymen ordained by him for that purpose; who will officiate in the German language, according to the forms of their national liturgy, compiled from the ancient liturgies, agreeing in all points of doctrine with the liturgy of the English Church, and sanctioned by the Bishop with consent of the Metropolitan, for the special use of those congregations : such liturgy to be used in the German language only. Germans, intended for the charge of such congregations, are to be ordained according to the ritual of the English Church, and to sign the Articles of that Church : and, in order that they may not be disqualified by the laws of Germany from officiating to German congregations, they are, before ordination, to exhibit to the Bishop a certificate of their having subscribed, before some competent authority, the Confession of Augsburg.
“The rite of Confirmation will be administered by the Bishop to the catechumens of the German congregations, according to the form used in the English Church.
Subjoined are copies of the Commendatory Letter, addressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the rulers of the Greek Church, and of the same translated into Greek, both of which the newly-consecrated Bishop carries with him to the East.”—(pp. 3–9.)
The spirit which breathes throughout this document seems to us most conciliatory, wise, and cautious, and truly Catholic, in the best and highest sense
the term. The supreme importance to the Church of sound doctrine and a pure worship; the subordinate value of Apostolic order; the duty of missionary exertion, the special claims of Israel, and the loud voice of Providence at the present time; the union to be desired with all Churches that are sound in the faith, and the hope and forbearance to be exercised towards those which retain even the form of Christ's ordinances; all these great principles are clearly recognized, and blended in a delightful harmony of pure christian wisdom. Cordially, in common with thousands of our fellow Churchmen, do we echo the thanksgiving of Ezra on a like occasion of divine mercy—“Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, who hath put such a thing in the heart” of our rulers; to seek the welfare of Israel, and to build up God's spiritual house in Jerusalem.
The Chancellor of Salisbury, however, and the Tutor of Magdalen, regard this matter in a very different light. Mr. Hope, in his pamphlet, arrives “ by long and devious paths,” at two “alternative conclusions ;" one of which is, that Bishop Alexander must pronounce all the Prussian Protestants, de facto, excommunicated; and the other, that he must himself otherwise be cut off from the Anglican Church. This cheering hope consoles him under an event so suspicious and untoward as the present appointment. In one point alone we agree with him, that the path is very “ devious” which has led him to this conclusion; and since he has not used a single verse of scripture to guide him in his ecclesiastical journey, it is not surprising that this narrow-minded and heartless alternative is the ditch in which he finds himself at his journey's end. Mr. Palmer goes further still. Protestantism, in his view, is not merely heretical, but heresy itself. Duplicity and apostasy are the sole epithets which he finds suited to describe the late appointment, and portentous asterisks are needed to express his unutterable indignation against our apostatizing Bishops and Clergy. The