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The High Church Rector.
ET bygones be bygones. I am thankful to say times are changed, but the letter referred to in the last chapter, though expressing the sentiments
of one man, yet showed the feeling of many others. I do not complain of it, for I must say I rather like the outspoken opposition of the natural heart; it is far better, and much less trying, than smiling indifference or hollow assent.
The work which began in this part went on and spread. The refusal of the clergy to take it up sent it to the chapels, where it was continued for miles round. For this reason I was charged then, and have been since, with encouraging Dissent, but the accusation sits very lightly on me, for I know what I would rather have. Nothing would please me so well as to have the clergy converted, and taking up the work; but if they will not, then I would rather that the Dissenters had the benefit, than that it should die out and be iost. Dissent makes division, but it is necessary for vitality, under present circumstances, and counteracts the great evil of spiritual death. The light of God ought to be in the
Church of England, for it is the Lord's candlestick in this land; but when the truth is not represented, and the Church is dark, it is a mercy that God has been pleased to raise up witnesses for Himself in other bodies.
The Calvinist, with a needless bitterness, holds up God's sovereignty, as if man's will were not free; the Arminian is equally energetic for man's responsibility, as if God were not sovereign; and the Quaker is a witness for the work of the Spirit. These, and several others, each maintain their particular doctrine. They are raised up to show respectively their own portion of the light, because the Church, which has in her formularies all these great truths, is remiss in her duty. The full blaze of light which ought to be emitted from her to all sides, is shed upon her in detail from others; and her members are too often lighted from without, and not from within.
In many parishes there was no light, and no life or testimony in the Church; and had it not been for the chapels, men and women might have perished in ignorance and
Imperfect and erroneous as was some of the Gospel which was preached in chapels and rooms, there was more vitality in it, and also more saving power, than in the refined and critical teaching which emanated from many of the accredited and accepted preachers of the land. Where the Church was rising up into energetic action, in too many cases it had a sectarian, and not a catholic object—that is to say, it was aiming to make Churchmen and communicants, or members of guilds, instead of proclaiming the Gospel for the salvation of souls.
The sovereignty of God, the responsibility of man, and the work of the Holy Ghost, were frequently altogether overlooked, although this is the true catholic teaching. In this I comprehend not only the bringing of souls from the
THE HIGH CHURCH RECTOR.
power of Satan to God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins, but also that believers might go on to have an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus." Churchism, with its sacramentalism, is as sectarian as any form of Dissent, Romanism included; for it falls short of God's object, as declared in the Word.
When the work at Golant church abated, I had more time for looking about; so I proffered a visit to the High Church rector, who had asked me to come over and tell him the secret of my success. He readily fixed upon a day, so I went over to luncheon; after which we began to talk. The curate, who was present, and who had heard some ranters shouting and screaming in the "shires," kept on every now and then putting in a word of caution to restrain the rector from admitting too much; for little by little he was yielding to me. I spoke of letting down the nets for a draught, and catching men, not to smother and kill them in some Church system, or by some erroneous teaching, but to keep them alive. "This," I said, "is the meaning of the word in the original;" and we looked it out in the Greek. It was very interesting. We then talked over the difference between the Church system and that of the Bible. The one, I said, makes apostolic succession and the sacraments the channel of salvation; the other the Word of God, as applied by the Holy Ghost.
We had a great battle on this point, two against one; but having the Word of God on my side, I stood by my experience. I had myself been on the other side, and was then ten times more zealous and earnest than these two were. I said, "I used to preach salvation by Church and sacraments once, but I was not saved that way. I used also to teach that the new birth was by Baptism; but I was not born again when I was baptized. Were you?
quite sure that, with all your faith in Baptismal Regeneration, you are born again of the Spirit ? Are you satisfied that you are now saved because you are in the Church ?"
They were dumb. So I went on to say, "I have no party or sectarian object in my work; my only desire is to bring souls to Christ Himself for salvation. I used, as a priest, to think I was mediator between Christ and the sinner, and that I had received by delegation some power for this purpose; but now that I have been over the ground experimentally, I would as soon blaspheme God in your presence, as dare to absolve a sinner, or come between Christ and him. My orders are to bring them from the power of Satan to God, and to Christ crucified, for forgiveness of sins."
At this point, the rector brought out a printed sermon by Dr. Pusey, on Justification by Faith, which he had been carefully reading. I asked him to read it to me. The first few pages contained statements of the doctrine in New Testament words, with a fair exposition of them; but when the author came to his own thoughts about the subject, he said that Baptism was the cause of justification. Here I challenged the statement, and said, "Have you any references there—any 'stars' or 'daggers' to that?"
"Yes," he answered, "references to the Fathers."
I replied, that "the Fathers were not inspired. There is no such thing as 'Justification by Baptism' in the Scriptures; it is by faith only, as you will see in the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans."
"Yes," he said, "that is just what Dr. Pusey means— Faith, as shown in Baptism."
"Then," I said, "according to that, in your Baptism you were justified by Faith; and as a consequence you have peace with God, and have access into grace, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. You will see that St. Paul
DR. PUSEY'S SERMON.
connects this experience with what he calls Justification by Faith. Evidently he did not expect so much from Baptism as you do, or for a certainty he would have baptized every one he could reach; but, instead of this, he thanked God that he had only baptized a few persons whom he named (1 Cor. i. 14-17). He had gone about for three years, teaching the Ephesian Christians, even with tears, and he called them to witness, not that he had administered the sacraments, and done priestly work among them, but that he had ceased not to teach, and to preach, ' repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ' " (Acts xx. 21).
My two High Church friends were not convinced, though they could not answer me. It was a question in their minds who was right, Dr. Pusey, or this "Fanatical Revivalist."
"Come," I said, "there is your man-servant outside in the garden; he was converted two weeks ago; and though he cannot read, I feel sure he knows more about this experience than the author of that learned sermon. Let us call him in, and read a few pages."
We did, and told him to sit down while we read a little while.
The rector began, and, as he went on, Sam's face lit up with joy, until the rector came to the sacramental passages; then any one could see Sam's interest was gone. He became very restless, and at last interrupting, said, respectfully, "If you please, sir, is there much more of that?"
"Why, Sam," said his master, "don't you like it?"
"Well, that is strange," said the rector; "I saw his interest went off just at the very point where you took exception to the sermon. You and Sam understand something that I do not know."