Imágenes de páginas

is apparently too careless of effect to assume the existence of so strange a phenomenon. The undergraduates say, rather flippantly, that it is two to one the Bishop has read neither of them. I am not quite of that opinion. It seems to me possible that the Bishop of Gloucester may have read one tract, and the Bishop of Bristol another;-but my credulity will not go so far as to believe that the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol has read both."

Here we have a distinct imputation, made in the face of the whole public; that this venerable prelate was guilty of denouncing, ex cathedra, works which he had not taken the trouble to read !

4. Another work, whose title-page we have copied above, furnishes a further proof of this pretended respect, but real disrespect, for the episcopal office. We allude to the not unassuming volume published under the direction of the Vicar of Leeds, and containing an account of the recent consecration of his new parish church. To any one who really honoured the episcopal office, the strangest feature in the whole account would be, the manner in which the Bishop of the diocese is kept out of sight. He is just introduced, with his registrar, to go through certain legal acts, needful to be done, and then disappears. Seven sermons are preached in succession, by seven different clergymen, but not one of them by the Bishop; though his Lordship, we believe, was not at all unwilling to discharge this duty. A public entertainment is afterwards given, at which several other prelates appear, but again the diocesan is absent. The secret of all these anomalies, we believe, is this,—that the whole affair was arranged, and the day fixed, not with any reference to the convenience of the Bishop of Ripon,the one only prelate to whom Dr. Hook owed any canonical obedience—but in order to meet the wishes and engagements of an American bishop, Dr. Doane; whose presence and assistance was evidently much more desired by the Vicar of Leeds, than that of his own diocesan. Dr. Doane was invited, as this volume itself informs ns, especially from America, several months beforehand; and a day was at last fixed on when it suited his convenience to preach, and to attend the whole of the proceedings. But the Bishop,-who, by all canonical rules, ought to have been the chief person considered in the matter, was so little taken into account in the arrangements, that the very day chosen was an inconvenient one to him, -obliging him to hurry away, the moment the service was over, to another engagement !

5. Dr. Hook, however, has never taken much pains to conceal the arbitrary and capricious nature of his attachment to Episcopacy. Even so far back as in the days of the good Bishop Ryder, the Vicar of the Holy Trinity Church (Coventry) was ever ready for a fray with his Diocesan. But in his last sermon, the title of which we have given at the head of this article, Dr. Hook explicitly enunciates his doctrine of obedience ;-or rather, we should say, of disobedience--in the following terms;

“ It is in vain to say that some of our Bishops may explain away “ the words of the Ordination Service, for the question is not “ what individual Bishops may think ;-the question is not how

they may evade the force of words; but the question is, what “ does the Prayer Book compel them to say ? and what meaning “ do the words thus uttered convey to simple-minded persons,

who, having no private interest to serve, are unprejudiced judges ?

We are not about to quarrel with Dr. Hook's principle; but we should like to know how he distinguishes it from that “private judgment,” which, in most of his publications, he so loudly deprecates. The truth is, that to preach obedience to others, and to practice it yourself, are very different things.

6. And this we may again see, in a recent occurrence, wherein the test is still more closely applied.

The Tracts for the Times assure us, that “ we ought to feel as certain that the Bishop is the representative of the Apostles, as if we saw a flame of fire sitting on his head.” And Dr. Hook, while stating his “private-judgment” theory, says, that “to their official acts we defer."

Now it is pretty extensively known, that within the last few months, the curate of Mr. Keble, one of the leaders of the Tractarian party,—applied for ordination (as priest) to his Diocesan, the Bishop of Winchester, and was by him refused. His Lordship, however, did not either hastily or uncourteously decline admitting him ;—but finding him unsound in the faith on several fundamental points, desired him to postpone his application for a few months, and in the interim to read certain standard works, which his Lordship kindly named to him.

The applicant withdrew, and on the next occasion presented himself afresh, as desired. The first question naturally was, as to the books which he had been desired to read. When, if we are not totally misinformed, he calmly admitted, that he had read none of them!

Whether this be “deference” or “obedience," or anything else that is decorous or becoming from a deacon to his bishop, we have yet to be informed.

What, then, is the new system of Episcopacy, for which these people so vehemently contend ? All men are consigned to “ the uncovenanted mercies of God” who are not reverently obedient to “the Apostolic Episcopate.” But where are we to find the living examples and patterns of this obedience? Are we to seek it in Mr. Newman, professing to bow to the sentence of his diocesan, but still persevering in the publication of his obnoxious tract ? Or in Mr. Perceval, gratuitously singling out one of the meekest as well as most exemplary of England's prelates, for censures, as disrespectful in tone as they are unjust in fact ? Or in Dr. Hook, unceremoniously pushing aside his own diocesan, to place in the most conspicuous post, a stranger from beyond the Atlantic, whose notions more exactly coincided with his own ? Or in Mr. Keble's curate, sullenly disobeying the directions and advice of his Bishop, officially delivered to him ; and refusing even to consider truths which this his lawful guide held it necessary for him to know ? In one and in all of these, we discern the same spirit which, in private society, meets us daily: a spirit which dictated the vaunt that lately issued from the lips of a Tractarian-. that “ steps must shortly be taken to bring the refractory bishops “ to their senses !” A spirit, in fact, which has all the worst faults that can even be imputed to the “right of private judgment;" while it most hypocritically endeavours to pass itself off as fraught with entire submission, both of judgment and of conduct, to the " slightest wish” of a “successor of the Apostles.”

Do we not rightly, then, deny to these dissemblers, the claim they would set up, of being the soundest churchmen, the most devoted episcopalians, of all men living? Of their real friendship for the Church, must we not doubt, when we see them doing their utmost to prevent that consummation which the Church has been for the last few years expecting,—when the State shall once more boldly profess itself Christian, and agreeably with such profession, undertake its unquestionable duty,—the providing full and sufficient religious instruction and church-accommodation for the entire mass of the population ? And equally clear is it, that the men, who are constantly shewing disrespect and disobedience towards every member of the English Episcopacy who venture to differ from their views, can never be supposed to be really sincere, when they profess more than ordinary veneration for the episcopal office and character. Let the delusion, then, cease, that these men are “only more devoted children of the Church than others.” Let us repudiate the idea, wherever we meet with it—that any peculiar elevation of this kind belongs to them. They may, perhaps, be “high-churchmen” after the fashion of Hildebrand and à Becket; but this is an elevation which rather leads men towards Rome, than makes them faithful members of the Reformed and Protestant Church of England.

EVANGELICAL REPENTANCE: a Sermon, preached in the

Cathedral Church of Winchester, in aid of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts : on Thursday, Nov. 11, 1841. By the Rev. CHARLES WORDSWORTH, M.A., Second Master of Winchester College, late Student and Tutor of Christ

Church, Oxford. Oxford: Parker. 1841. A MORE complete misnomer than the title of this Sermon, it has seldom been our lot to encounter. “ Ecclesiastical Penance" would have been its honest and appropriate designation ; or rather, as still more expressive of its scope and tendency, “Ecclesiastical Tyranny.” The one solitary feeling of satisfaction connected with its perusal, was derived from the admitted fact, that several of the author's clerical brethren, forming a portion of his original audience, “ declared themselves offended at it.” Had the case been otherwise, we should have been constrained to fear lest “the glory had departed” from the diocese in whose Cathedral such a discourse was delivered.

Modestly concluding, however, that this portion of his brethren was not of the class who," by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil,” the reverend preacher has resolved to give them a second benefit. An appendix, moreover, (and, judging from the references to it, a copious one,) is characteristically threatened, by way of supplemental penance. As this latter is not forthcoming at the time we write, and as its object must obviously be, not to correct, but to confirm the views that are here promulged, there can be no ground for scrupling to pronounce upon those views forthwith.

We have, then, in the compass of these seventy pages, the fullblown developement of Tractarian theology, on one of its leading articles; and it assuredly requires very little of prophetic inspiration to predict that the practical result of such tenets, if unchecked, would be Ecclesiastical tyranny. It is not in this instance as in some that we have met with, where the writer, so to speak, has borrowed from a kindred art the most recent quackery of the day. Our author does not stoop to apportion in homeopathic doses an infinitesimal poison to a page of poetry, or a chapter of some popular tale. On the contrary, we never expressed ourselves more seriously or conscientiously than when we warn Mr. Wordsworth's readers against his Sermon, as pregnant with the most deadly and “ defecated” * mischief.

* Burke.

Let it, however, be clearly understood that the quarrel thus taken up is not with Church discipline in the abstract, nor with that of our own Church, when administered by our own Bishops. In hearty and affectionate obedience to them, we will not yield to the reverend author himself; and they know it. Our protest is levelled against Mr. Wordsworth's system of discipline, as based upon his system of doctrine.

The fundamental error of the whole composition is connected with the Sacrament of Baptism. It is one of long standing, and consists in regarding and treating every recipient of the "sign ” as a partaker of the “thing signified,” and regenerate in the highest sense of the term. Of all subjects, this is the one on which we are least inclined to dogmatize; still less are we disposed to subtract from the grace of the Sacraments. We simply insist that such grace is in one sense conditional, conferred only on those who rightly receive,”—and that, where there is neither repentance, nor faith, nor any one fruit of the Spirit manifested in the life; common sense, and every sense, forbid our acting on a mere legal fiction, simply for the sake of maintaining a theory. That the author's view of baptismal regeneration is not that of the Church of England, or of its ablest divines, is abundantly made out in the “ Catena,” at the end of Mr. Faber's “ Treatise on Regeneration.” Without setting our seal to every statement in that work, we venture, in all good-will, most earnestly' to recommend a candid and careful perusal of it to the young divine, who so compassionately steps forth to teach his brethren “the momentous doctrines, and the true measures, of sin and of repentance." The connexion (according to Mr. Wordsworth's system of theologizing) between the dogma we have thus denounced, the (dogma, viz. of inherent sacramental grace) and that of penitential discipline, may fairly be thus represented. Repentance is divisible into three orders,-primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary repentance "expresses conversion to Christianity by the preaching of the gospel, in the case of Jews and Gentiles.”

Secondary repentance is that of the regenerate, “through which frail and sinful, negligent and ignorant creatures as we are—and so far as we are such—we are still enabled, by the Spirit of God, to rise again; we regain the state of baptismal grace in which we stand; we seek daily more and more 'to aspire heavenward, and chide the part of us that flags.'” Now it will be evident that neither of these divisions meets the case of that large class, forming unhappily the bulk of most congregations, who continue to live altogether without God and Christ in the world; still less of those who are "guilty of open and grievous sin after Baptism." How is the ambassador for Christ to deal with these? Seeing

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »