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But as the Poor Law Commissioners are not lawyers, and very candidly said they did not deem themselves competent to enter into any detailed explanation of either the legal or practical effects of this proviso," we ought not to condemn them harshly if they fall into errors.
To understand clearly, then, the law of rating, we must revert to the principles laid down by the court in the case of Rex v. Joddrell ; for it is this which rules and decides the law of rating. And we must neither add to, nor take from, anything that is there laid down. The example here given of the amended manner of rating Mr. Joddrell is, no doubt, on correct and legal principles for the parish of Yelling. In parishes, however, where the new poor law has come into operation, and reduced the poor-rates, the deduction of one-fourth for rates, tenths, &c., will probably be rather too much, and a deviation must be made accordingly. Tenths, procurations, and synodals, are yearly the same. But an allowance, I think, ought also to be made for the tithe composition on cottage gardens, each of which are charged from perhaps 1s. to 4s. in making up the gross tithe rent charge or composition, but which I believe no clergymen receive; and it is not right that, besides giving up the tithe composition on such gardens, he should be out of pocket with them, and be taxed for his charity.
The Poor Law Commissioners, in a letter to an inquirer, said, the amount of rates paid in the preceding year is a true criterion to calculate what
be the amount for the next succeeding year. After the amount of rates, tenths, &c., is deducted from the amount of tithe composition or rent charge, the half of such remaining sum may, I believe, generally speaking, be called the correct, legal, rateable value. Mr. Joddrell, however, who is deserving of great attention, having become well acquainted with the value of produce and outgoings on farms in his parish, which experienced surveyors had minutely calculated for him, says in his communication to the “British Magazine" of last month—“On summing up these calculations it will be found that the clergy ought to be rated upon only one third of the sum total of their composition, for them to be upon a just and equal footing with the farmer; indeed, even that is too high.
Several clergymen in the districts of different quarter sessions have, I find, united in bonds to protect each other by law against undue rating of their tithes, and to maintain the principles laid down in Mr. Joddrell's case, which the proviso in the new assessment act was designed to maintain. And seeing the ignorance that prevails on the law of rating on the one hand, and the disposition in parishes to overrate the tithes on the other, it seems advisable, in districts where şuch qualities are exhibited, for the clergy to unite to defend themselves against being saddled with payments greater than what the law in its justice requires. I am, yours &c.,
THE “RECORD" NEWSPAPER.
Sir,-You were kind enough to allow me room in a late number of your Magazine to examine the objections which the editor of the “ Record" had made against a statement of mine contained in a former letterviz., that the apostolic succession is the only external mark whereby to distinguish the ministers of Christ.
I now, with your permission, proceed to examine his counter-statement-viz., that there is an external mark given in scripture whereby we are to decide who are Christ's ministers, quite independent of, and very different from, that of the apostolic succession. His words are as follows:
“But if the great head of the church has not left a mark of this kind to distinguish his shepherds, which would, in fact, prove all the idolatrous priests of the apostasy to be his true ministers, has he left no other mark? God forbid. How a protestant minister, unless deeply imbued with popish darkness, should entertain such an imagination, it is difficult to conjecture. "Our Lord says, ' Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ? Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them.""
These fruits he afterwards describes to be— Ist, the Christian doctrine; 2nd, the Christian spirit ; 3rd, the Christian morals ; and the exhibition of these, he considers, constitutes the external marks by which a real minister of Christ is to be known. In answer to this, it might be enough for me to say, that the absurd consequences to which his application of this rule of our Lord's would inevitably lead are sufficient to prove his application false. Ex. gr., may there not be in the same parish a minister of the episcopal church of England, a presbyterian minister, a minister of the independents, another of the baptists, another of the methodists, (I might greatly prolong the list,) all of whom lay claim to the ministerial office, and all exhibit those fruits above mentioned, which, in the opinion of the “ Record,” substantiate their claim? Now, if these claims are good,—i. e., if they are really appointed of the Lord,—the people are bound to obey them, according to the divine injunction given in Heb. xiii. But how is this possible? No man can serve two masters, whose interests are opposed, and whose commands are contradictory. How, then, shall the people render obedience to so many rulers, since allegiance to any one could only be yielded to him by their being disobedient to the rest? The principle of the “ Record” would compel them to recognise the claims of each of these to spiritual authority, and consequently would enforce on them submission to each. But this would be totally impossible, as impossible as to serve God and Mammon. May I not, therefore, use against the editor of the “Record” the very words which he applies to me- _“We do not know how this necessary consequence affects other minds; but it would demonstrate to us, that, were his whole theory on this subject as apparently conclusive as we shall shew it to be utterly false, there must be some hidden sophisın in it. We consider this reductio ad absurdum proves that the external mark vouchsafed to the church, by the grace of Christ, to distinguish his true ministers from the false, is not the fruits above mentioned.
It is evident that the rule given in Matt, vii. has been wholly misunderstood by the editor of the “Record,” and that it does not belong to the subject to which he has applied it. His mistake is this, that he regards that as a rule for deciding who are the ordinary ministers of Christ, which our Lord intended to be used siinply in the case of persons claiming an extraordinary mission, and attempting to prove their claims by miracles. One consideration which leads me to conclude that our Lord intended it to be applied to this latter purpose is, that it is in substance the same as that which he gave to Moses in Deuteronomy. Now this was not intended as a rule by which to try the claims of the stated ministers of the tabernacle or temple-the ordinary teachers of the people—for their claims were to be proved quite in a different way; viz., by the Levitical succession. But it was designed as a provision for extreme trials of faith, when persons might come pretending to an immediate mission from God, and doing great signs and wonders to substantiate their pretensions. Such were likely to occur under the former dispensation; and it was to protect his people from error in these perplexing circumstances that the Lord gave them this rule of judging. Such would also occur under the new dispensation, (Mark, xiii. 22 ;) and therefore the Lord renewed the warning, and repeated the rule. It is evident that the different interpretation which the editor of the “ Record” has given to this passage, for the purpose of making out from it an argument against the apostolical succession, would afford one just as strong against the Levitical succession. The Levitical ministry, be it observed, was in existence at the time when our Lord gave this rule to his disciples. If, then, when he said to his disciples, “ Beware of false prophets; by their fruits ye shall know them ;' he meant to teach them to consider those as not the true ministers of God who did not exhibit evidence of a spiritual and moral character, he must have instructed them to reject the ministry of the priests; for, surely, they were wholly destitute of such evidence. But so far was this from being his intention, that his daily practice, we know, taught them to honour their ministry. And his disciples so strictly followed their Master's example, that they continued to attend the ordinances of religion administered by these men even after they had filled up the measure of their wickedness by crucifying the Son of God.
Independent of these reasons against such an application of our Lord's words, there lies against it this strong objection, that, if admitted, it would set aside ordination altogether; for whatever unordained person claimed to be a minister, we should be forced to admit his claims if he exhibited the fruits referred to. But would his claims have been admitted in apostolic times? Suppose, for instance, a member of the church in Crete, on whom Titus had not laid hands, should have taken on himself the office of the ministry; would his assumption have been allowed, provided that he were sound in doctriue, moral in conduct, and spiritual in feeling? If it would, then
the authority with which St. Paul invested Titus, of ordaining elders, would have been nullified; if it would not, (which is most certainly the true supposition,) then our Lord's rule would not have been applied, as the editor asserts that it ought to be.
But it is needless for me to urge any arguments of my own against his assertion on this subject; for he has, in the concluding paragraph of his article, furnished one himself, which is quite sufficient to disprove his whole theory :
“ Our second observation is, that the ministrations of unfaithful men do not diminish the grace of God's gifts from such as by faith and rightly do receive the sacraments ministered unto them ;' which be effectual, because of Christ's institution and presence, although they be ministered of evil men.
It appears, then, after all, that "evil men” may be ministers, and that the “ ministrations of unfaithful men do not diminish the grace of God's gifts;" so that we may not only acknowledge their ministry, but attend it with profit to our souls; but, according to the principle laid down before, these men, not having “the fruits,” should be avoided as false prophets, and their ministry rejected as not the ministry of God. How the editor can reconcile these two statements, so wholly inconsistent, it is for him to say. I conceive it to be impracticable, and therefore conclude that, the one quoted from the article being acknowledged on both sides as true, the other, opposed to it, is incorrect. Till, then, there is plainer warrant from scripture for setting up a different mark from that of the apostolic succession to certify who are the ministers of Christ, we cannot be justified in setting this aside ; though in adhering to it we subject ourselves to the charge of bigotry, and bring ourselves under the suspicion of being unworthy of the name of protestants. The strength of the position which we maintain is proved by the easiness with which all attacks against it are repelled. Those, therefore, who possess this mark need not per. plex their minds with any doubts as to whether or not they are the Lord’s ministers; the only legitimate subject for their anxiety is, that they may walk worthy of so high a calling, and exercise the office with which they have been invested by him, so as “ to set forth his glory, and to set forward the salvation of all men.”
I am, Sir, your obedient and obliged servant, B.
* It has been well observed respecting this article, that it can have no meaning except on high-church principles; for if no one can be (as some maintain) a true minister but one of a certain character, whence could the difficulty contemplated in the article arise? The benefit of the sacraments could not be supposed to depend wholly on the devotion of the recipient; for in that case it would be needless to say that the impiety of the ministers offers no hindrance to it-it plainly could have no effect one way or the other. But if, besides the devotion of the recipient, there is grace to be mysteriously communicated, and no one allowed to minister but those legitimately ordained, then the question answered in the article would naturally arise ; for a case might occur in which the laity, having no choice, might be deprived of the grace of the sacraments altogether, were the impiety of the only persons qualified to communicate sufficient to prevent the transmission of divine grace.
ON THE FIDELITY OF MATTHIAS FLACIUS ILLYRICUS. SIR,—Matthias Flacius Illyricus, if even his friends have not calum. niated him, was not of the most conciliating disposition ; and from the same source we learn, that his morality in a certain respect was not of the most rigid character. He is represented as gaining access to the libraries of different monasteries in disguise, and purloining from them such books, whether printed or manuscript, as he particularly wanted, and of which in any other way it is not likely that he would have obtained the use. This is all that we meet with in his biographer, Melchion Adam. But it has been added, on what authority I do not exactly know, that, where it was not feasible or convenient to remove entire volumes, he cut out some of the leaves; and that hence arose the nearly proverbial expression, Culter Flacianus.* If any apology be sought for such conduct, it may perhaps best be found in the school of morality in which all the first reformers must have received their education.
But however questionable the morality of the conduct referred to, it very little affects the fidelity of the erring individual as a writer or recorder of the facts and documents which could only be acquired by such means, and which he has used to a purpose generally beneficial. It is asserted, that in this way Flacius was enabled to compile his Catalogus Testium Veritatis. From these circumstances, and others necessarily belonging to the time, it was impossible that many inaccuracies should not occur in a work of such extent, variety, and remoteness from the routine of literature common at the commencement of the sixteenth century. Yet with all the disadvantages, upon which it would be easy to expatiate, it may confidently be affirmed, that the errors of the work are comparatively unimportant, and not one of them intentional. I believe that in the Catalogus there is not a single falsification, properly so called.
I now come to the fact which I have it particularly in view to bring before your readers. I lately obtained a work of the author under consideration, which from its subject had some attractions for me
“ Protestatio Concionatorum aliquot Aug. Confessionis adversus Conventum Trid., &c. Anno 1563. Mense Martio, 4to.” It is anonymous; but the authorship is ascertained by p. 105, and the end. In this work, I found a passage not at all expected by me, but very acceptable, which gave me the first information of a particular papal bull, withdrawing licences before granted of reading heretical books. The guardians of Roman orthodoxy are placed in a very critical and anxious predicament on this subject. It is necessary for them or their operatives to read heretical books, in order to oppose and confute them; and it is hardly decorous that they should expose themselves to be twitted as not daring to face their assailants. And yet there is plainly some hazard in the case; for, by sad and confessed experience, it was found that, in some cases, those who undertook to be converters were themselves converted, whether by books or verbal
• See Sagittarii Introd. ad Hist. Ecc. i. 765, 766.