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AS TO THE PRINCIPLE OF HER CONSTITUTION
AS TO RITUAL FORMS AND CEREMONIAL EMBLEMS
IDEAL OF THE ENGLISH CHURCH.
A DISTINCTION TO BE REMEMBERED.
CHRISTIANITY according to the DIVINE IDEA, and Christianity according to its HUMAN EMBODIMENT, is to be regarded in a distinct manner. Unless this be done, we can never pay due reverence to the abstract glory of the one, or comprehend the palpable inconsistencies of the other. The necessity for this distinction may be proved instantaneously, if we compare the attributes of the believer as he is described in the letter of the Word, with the development of the same as bodied forth in the experience of life. In the former case a Christian is a ROYAL PRIEST, a HOLY PERSON, a PECULIAR PERSON. In him eternity hallows time, heaven approaches earth, and the moral glories of God's revealed character are seen to be reflected on the mirror of man's graces. Here all appears high and heavenly; nor can we yield ourselves to the descriptions of such a believer, as set forth by the Divine Spirit, without being elevated into a region of purity and a realm of privilege, far beyond the culture
of mere intellect to reach, and the aspirations of sentiment to attain. But when we revert to the latter case, and contemplate Christianity as unfolded in the erring forms of human discipleship,-alas! what infirmities and inconsistencies on all sides meet our view, and mortify our hopes! Nay, to such an extent does the contrast between the ideal of the Bible, and the actual of man, in Divine things, exist,-that perchance the infidel has derived stronger arguments against the Gospel from the frailties and sins of those who profess to be guided by its principles, than he has from the philosophy of those who have openly rejected it.
And now let us venture to assert, that we must proceed in analogy with the preceding distinction, when we come to reason on the faculties and functions of our Anglican Church. Estimated according to Her own IDEA, or theoretic Conception, as exhibited in Her Constitution, Liturgy, Creeds, and Articles, -we may proclaim with truthful modesty, that she approximates directly to the Apostolic platform. But when we examine Her positive influence and practical results, we must adopt a humbler tone, because we are then compelled to move within a lower range of observation. Were this distinction between our Church in the ideal and in the actual remembered, controversy would often be mitigated, and charity increased. However mysterious it may appear to us, man must acknowledge what God is pleased to allow,namely, the incidental failure of moral remedies which His own wisdom hath appointed.
Let the spirit of the above considerations be remembered, and then the view which we are about to take of the NATURAL TENDENCIES of the English Church, will not be questioned by those who believe the transforming
energies of a spiritual life to be communicated through her instrumentality.
The Church, we know, is an ORDINANCE OF GOD, which is intended to direct the moral nature of mankind upward towards Divinity, and forward towards eternity. But against this, how vehement, multiform, and incessant are the counteractions with which she has to contend! Her office, indeed, is heavenly and sublime: to lift man out of the debasement of the senses and the passions into an ethereal region of sanctity and love; to hold ever before the purged eye of his faith "CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED" AND GLORIFIED, as His faultless ARCHETYPE; and so to attract him off from earthly pursuits and finite good, to celestial pleasures and infinite perfections. Such we repeat is the duty of our Church: to this all her Rites, Sacraments, and Doctrines tend. But daily the British people are becoming more and more luxurious and sensually inclined; and so intensely secular, as to consider everything but Mammon, and manufactures, and incomes, something for poets and priests to admire, but not for the wise of this world to pursue. In one word, the practical habits of our country are growing ATHEISTICAL and UNSPIRITUAL. "The things that are seen" so pamper the minds of the majority with their incessant excitements, as to destroy all intellectual appetite for the calmer and deeper claims of "the things which are unseen." Here is the great antagonist of a spiritual Church-even the sad materialism and sinful luxury of the times.
In addition to opposing forces such as these, the Church has to contend against difficulties and dangers which beset her from the sad conflict which ECCLESIASTICAL PARTY at the present moment is promoting.