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THE FATHERS.-MR. CUNNINGHAM'S SPEECH.

Surg-Having just seen in the “Record” of May 3rd, a report of a speech delivered at the anniversary meeting of the Bible Society by the Rev. J. W. Cunningham, whose name stands, I believe, or has stood until lately, on the list of the Tract Committee of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, I am induced to request your attention to it. The passage is as follows:

“ The word of God had come down from heaven; some refused to take it; they were its enemies, they would not hear it; but what did its friends do for nearly four hundred years? They buried it, and took the word of man in lieu of it. The Em. peror Constantine attached so much importance to it that he thought fifty copies of the scripture a gift worthy the acceptance of a great nation; but what, he repeated, did the friends of the word of God do? What did those fathers of the church, to whom the right reverend prelate the Bishop of Chester had so well alluded, what did those fathers, or, without meaning any disrespect to any portion of the meeting, those mothers,* those old women of their day, what did they do with the word of God ? [i. e., what did Athanasius, Chrysostom, Origen, Cyprian, Augustine, Jerome, Cyril, do with the word of God?] Did they circulate the Bible among the people ? [query, by printing and machinery?] Nothing of the kind; they shut it up, laid it aside, and gave their own opinions instead of it. He did not mean to say that there might not be found amongst the fathers some learning, (nearly as much (I suppose) as a child in one of our new education schools, ) and some good traits here and there. But, at the same time, he would declare his own opinion, [formed, of course, on an elaborate course of patristical study] that he knew of no theological work of the present time which contained half the nonsense that might be found in the ponderous volumes of the fathers; the writers could scarcely be found to agree on almost any point, (e. g., the apostolic succession, the creed, the catholic verities, credenda et agenda. Of course, there were no such things as the four first councils,] they were inconsistent with each other, and they were often inconsistent with themselves.”

Had this been delivered by a raw student from Homerton or Hoxton, one might have set it down to profound ignorance. But is it to be endured, that one who has pledged himself to minister in holy things“ as this church and realm hath received the same," and whose canons bind him to preach nothing contrary to the doctrine of the

The Editor is sure that Mr. Cunningham will excuse his saying that this joke is not original. For a short time ago a friend sent him a number of the “ Christian Lady's Magazine,” conducted by " Charlotte Elizabeth,” in which that lady being appealed to by one of her fair correspondents as to bowing at our Lord's name in the Creed, takes advantage of the circumstance, puts the Oxford school of divines down altogether with a very few words, and declares that she has no notion of consulting the fathers of the church nor the mothers either. The editor's friend wished the whole paper to be printed either “ without note or comment,” or with a few fitting ones; and, doubtless, the shewing the style, the manner, and the information with which theological subjects are managed for the good of “ Christian ladies” might have been useful. But the editor abstained out of sheer cowardice. For one of the “ London Clergyman's" heaviest accusations against him, one of the most stringent proofs of his being “a malignant,” was based on the fact that, in a review of a book by Charlotte Elizabeth, the reviewer spoke of her as “ a lady without a surname," upon which the “ London Clergyman" says all sorts of strong things, that her very name ought to have commanded respect, that the incidents of her life are of such a character that any one but, &c., &c. Now all this may be very true; but as the editor does not happen to know who the lady is, and never heard of her history, he was not surely so very much to blame in admitting the review. But in this cloud of ignorance (where he ought to have been so well informed) he thought it safer to say no more, lest he should fall into deeper disgrace. -Ed.

catholic doctors of the primitive church, should involve the whole church of the fathers in one sweeping charge of unjust vituperation ? Is this gentleman aware whither these principles would carry him? Does he know on whose evidence the canon of scripture rests? Does he know that if all “ the ponderous trash" (as he is pleased to call it) of the first four hundred years were swept away, one grand branch of the evidence for the gospel itself would be gone? Does he know how Romanists exult in this loose, ill-considered declamation ? And what is the charge which Mr. Cunningham brings against the fathers ? “ That they shut up the Bible from the people.” So, because they had not the art of printing, they did nothing to enlighten the people; or rather, according to Mr. C., being dark themselves, they shut up the key of knowledge from others. This is really too bad. Is Mr. C. really not aware, that the fathers spent their time chiefly in explaining, circulating by MSS., studying themselves, and recommending to the study of others, the word of God? Does he need to be referred (as we must not quote the ancients) to Dr. Pye Smith's speech at a former meeting of the same society, in which the better-informed dissenter recommended the translation and circulation of those homilies of St. Chrysostom which enforce the general perusal of the scriptures? Or does he not even know that six of the ponderous folios which “ are to be parted with for one small octavo" of the dissenting “ Missionary Williams” are occupied with literal commentaries of that “prince of interpreters” (as our own Barrow calls him) on the chief parts of the Old and New Testament? Let Mr. C. bring forth the passages in the writings of the fathers which forbid or discourage the reading of the Bible. This would be dealing fairly and manfully.

It is grievous, indeed, to find men of piety and respectability hurried on by their animosity against the writings of the Oxford divines (for hinc illæ lachrymæ) to give utterance to such unfounded, unjust, and calumnious statements, at variance too with the articles, homilies, and canons of our church, and the writings of all her ablest theologians. This is the doctrine which the assembled thousands at Exeter Hall are to hear on the part of the clergy.

I must beg you, Sir, to excuse these observations, with which I should not have troubled you had not the case seemed to require remark. I detest anonymous letters where the proceedings of others are called in question, and therefore subjoin my name, though it is one of no weight whatever, which therefore you may insert or not as you think proper.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant, Joun Medley. St. Thomas's Vicarage, May 11th, 1838.

SCOTCH BAPTISMS.

SIR, I would beg to offer a few observations upon the first question proposed in a late Number of your Magazine, with the hope that they may in some degree tend to satisfy the scruples of your correspondent; though I would, at the same time, seize this as a favourable opportu

nity of deprecating the introduction of such questions at the present crisis; for I apprehend that discussions of this nature cannot in any degree tend to remove those feelings of hostility which, to their disgrace, have hitherto existed between the two establishments, and have conduced greatly to impair their efficiency, and in no slight degree to encourage and promote the movements of their common enemies. Neither would I at this time allow myself to be the means of keeping alive such fruitless inquiries, by replying to the question of your correspondent, did I not feel assured that the view which I take, if not allowed to be the correct one, possesses at least this advantage, that so far from feeding and cherishing further hostilities, it must, on the contrary, tend to pacify all such unhallowed and unworthy feelings. The first consideration, then, which I would offer to the attention of your correspondent, is that which is derived from the twenty-third Article, not so much from the direct testimony of the Article itself (for had this been the case, then no such question could have been entertained amongst us) as from the allowed, I had almost said the authorized, exposition of Bishop Burnet. After briefly touching upon the propriety of a succession of pastors, and upon the nature of a law

fa ful calling, the bishop proceeds to treat of certain baptisms, as administered to members of the Romish church by laymen and women. These, he asserts, are acknowledged by our church, though he admits the practice to be bad, and to have originated in erroneous notions of the necessity of baptism to salvation. “Since there has been,” to quote the well known sentiment of the bishop, "since there has been a practice so universally spread over the Christian church, of allowing the baptism, not only of laics, but of women to be lawful, since this has been a fact so generally received and practised, we do not annul such baptisms, nor rebaptize persons so baptized.Such being the opinion of this learned divine, and what is far more, such being, if not the sanction, at least the acknowledged legality, on the part of the church, of baptisms so administered, by women as well as laymen,can the notion of the invalidity of a Scotch baptism, administered neither by laics nor by women, but by ministers whose civil appointment none can presume to question, whose apostolical authority many amongst themselves strenuously contend for, can such a notion be for a moment entertained? The question, as I conceive, briefly resolves itself into this simple consideration—is the church to allow baptism, as received from the hands of laymen, or it may be from the kind attention of a sage femme, in the sacred discharge of her most sacred office, and yet to deny the validity of the same rite as administered by a presbyterian minister, who, to say the very least, is so far better than a layman inasmuch as he has received authority of some description, and superior to a midwife inasmuch as he is at least an educated man ?* But without dwelling longer on this fact, I would pro

* Without entering further into the argument here, it may be asked of “ T. C.” whether there can be any question as to better or worse, or whether education can make any difference, in this case ? in short, whether the only questions are not, (1) “ Is the ministerial commission necessary or not ?" and (2)“If it is, who have that commission ?"--Ep.

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pose another consideration which may not be unworthy the attention of your correspondent. This is, the consequences which must necessarily result from denying the validity of a Scotch baptism, exemplified particularly in this--that no one, who has been once initiated into the Scotch church, however upright and sanctified may have been his life, has any claim to the use of the burial service of our church without rebaptism; nay, rather, there is an express probibition to the contrary, for if such baptisms be not admitted, all who die in the communion of the church of Scotland are necessarily unbaptized.Now, what says the rubric? “ It is here to be noted that the office ensuing (for the burial of the dead) is not to be used over any that die unbaptized, or excommunicate, or have laid violent hands upon themselves.” This, then, is the dilemma into which we are unavoidably driven by refusing to admit Scotch baptisms; viz., that all persons who have received that sacrament from the hands of Scotch ministers are to be considered on a par with the excommunicated, or with such as have laid violent hands upon themselves. So that out of the many hundreds of Scotchmen who annually leave their own country to settle in this, and who in the great majority of instances become members of the English church, and receive from the hands of her ministers the Lord's supper, not one out of so many hundreds is entitled to the privilege of her burial service; nay, is actually debarred from this, the last and solemn office of the church.

Additional considerations I could easily advance for the attention of your correspondent, did I not hope that these alone may be found sufficient to answer the ends I have in view in addressing you, and did I not feel that greater space could not be allowed for the discussion of a topic which you, I trust, in common with myself, would rather see left to the private judgment of each than made a subject of controversy, at a time when, but for the introduction of questions such as these, Christian love and harmony would imperceptibly take the place of an unbecoming jealousy and animosity.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant, T. C.

BANNS OF MARRIAGE FORBIDDEN FOR SCANDALOUS CONDUCT.

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SIR,—A letter under this title appeared in your last number, in which the opinion of your clerical readers is asked upon the case there submitted: I hope that I shall not be chargeable with presumption in venturing to offer mine.

It seems that a couple were about to be united, who had been “discreditably connected for some time previous." The man lived in an adjoining parish A, where the marriage was to be solemnized. The clergyman of the parish B published the banns, but, at the third publication, forbade them himself, upon the ground of their “previous discreditable connexion,” requiring them to sign a sort of confession, which he proposed, thus authorized, and “with the consent of his ordinary," to read in the church. Whether he held out the refusal

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of a certificate of publication as the alternative of their refusal to comply with this condition, which, to be consistent, he ought to have done, does not appear. It is a fair presumption that he did not hold out this threat, as they did refuse to comply with his exaction of penance, and he did notwithstanding grant the certificate of publication, merely coupling with it his objection as stated above. We are not informed whether the clergyman of the parish A considered this a legal and sufficient objection to the performance of the rite: my own opinion is, that if he did so consider it, and denied the parties wedlock, he has incurred a heavy responsibility. Your correspondent thinks that the four questions which he subjoins embrace the points which most need consideration: I will give these questions seriatim, with a brief reply to each.

Question 1. “Is it not desirable to refuse the church's blessing to such persons ?" I answer, No. First, because you have not the church's authority to do so, the only grounds upon which the church's blessing can be refused being plainly set forth in the 99th, 100th, and 102nd canons; and surely it is not“ desirable" to violate our solemn declaration of obedience to the laws of the church, which we make at our ordination ? Whether or not it be desirable to amend these canons is another question, and one which your correspondent does not put, and one, therefore, which I am not called upon to answer. If I were, I should still say, No. For, if persons have been hitherto “discreditably connected,” we should rather, in Christian charity, view their wish to be united in holy matrimony as an evidence of compunction for the past, and of a desire to make the only, certainly the greatest, visible and practical atonement in their power to the church, to society, to God, by changing the nature of their connexion from adultery to a “holy estate, adorned and beautified by Christ, (i commended of St. Paul to be honourable among all men," and “ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication.” The Founder of the church said to the woman taken in adultery, “

Go, and sin no more.” The practice attempted to be established by the clergyman in question would be, saying to such unhappy persons, in effect, though very differently intended, “Go, and continue in sin.” Besides, I should like to be informed by this clergyman at what precise point in the scale of vice his moral exceptions against candidates for the church's blessing are intended to stop. My own practice has uniformly been to urge such persons either to marry or separate: if I am wrong, I am open to the correction of greater wisdom and experi. ence than my own, and shall feel thankful to be set right by any one of your correspondents who will, in a Christian spirit, attempt it.

Question II. “Considering the late change in the law respecting marriages, is any legal penalty incurred by so doing, and what?" This question as to illegality and penalty ought to have been asked before, with reference to the canons, instead of putting the case merely as one of expediency, by asking, “ Is it not desirable ?" I am quite willing to admit that it is our duty, as good subjects, to obey all secular enactments, even if obnoxious, as is the case with this new marriage act; but surely it is our duty, as clergymen, to be at at least equally

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